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Brigham Youi^ University 







Edited by ELVA S. SMITH 

Cataloguer of Children's Books. Carnegie Library 

of Pittsburgti 

Illustrated Cloth 

GOOD OLD STORIES for Boys and Girls 

MYSTERY TALES for Boys and Girls 






Edited by ELVA S. SMITH and 


St. Louis Public Library 


The First Christmas Night. 

From Painting by Pierrey. 

^orxKt aag tl|at rb^r 'gatnat tl|at H^aBon rom^H 
Uljrrftn our ^abtour'a btrtlj \b r^kbratrb, 
(ill|p birb af hauJtttttg aingdly all ttigljt long : 
Anb tljrn, tlyrg sag, no Bptrit barra attr abroab ; 
<ill|f ntglyta ar^ inlinlraum^ ; tljpn no plan^ta atrtkf . 
No fairy takra, nor wWrli ljatl| potOFr to rl|arm. 
^0 Ijalloio'b anb ao grariona ia tl|? ttm^. 


<>p^^o o *I2^3^<» ISoIjF^2Lo«<»lSr « I5«S3ao ISLo© oE^a«E2o B^Snio o o B?53^« 

































0^^2223 ittttBT o'E&FSSS'o«o'EII.oSS;SL'>oo"^SL««o'E2^2loEaLoo o ES^l^glo V////J GSS371SI0. 

First Printing, July, 1915. 
Second Printing, November, 1915. 
Third Printing, December, 1915. 
Fourth Printing, September, 1917. 

Published, August, 1915. 


All Bights Reserved 

Ghbisthas in LsasNo Ain> Stobt 



In our experience in library work with chil- 
dren we have learned that it is very difficult 
to find Christmas stories and legends which 
have literary merit, are reverent in spirit, and 
are also suitable for children. This collection 
has been made in an endeavor to meet this need, 
and thus to be of service to parents, teachers, 
and librarians. 

Most of the stories and poems in this book 
are of the legendary type. They have been 
chosen from a wide variety of sources and 
represent the work of many writers. There are 
other stories also, which, although not strictly 
traditional, have the same reverent spirit and 
illustrate traditional beliefs and customs. 
These have been included for their literary 
value and their interest for young people. 

In the arrangement of the selections we have 
followed the natural order of the events in 
preference to grouping the stories for boys and 
girls of different ages. 

vi Preface 

Although no attempt has been made to adapt 
the legends for story-telling, most of them may- 
be used for that purpose. Many of the selec- 
tions are also well suited for reading aloud. 

Above all it is hoped that this book may 
bring real joy to the boys and girls for whom 
it has been compiled. 

Elva S. Smith, 

Cataloguer of Children's Books, 
Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. 

Alice I. Hazeltine, 

Supervisor of Children's Work, 
St. Louis Public Library. 


The compilers wish to thank Mrs. Margaret 
Deland for permission to use ^' The Christmas 
Silence ; ' ' Mrs. Etta Austin McDonald for her 
adaptation of Coppee's ** Sabot of Little 
Wolff " from '' The Child Life Fifth 
Eeader; '' Josephine Preston Peabody for 
** The Song of a Shepherd-Boy at Bethle- 
hem; " Mrs. William Sharp for '' The Chil- 
dren of Wind and the Clan of Peace," by 
Fiona Macleod ; Nora Archibald Smith and the 
editors of the Outlook for ** The Haughty 
Aspen; " and the editors of Good Housekeep- 
ing Magazine, Little, Brown & Company and 
Mrs. Yelma Swanston Howard for her trans- 
lation of ^* The Legend of the Christmas 
Eose,'' by Selma Lagerlof, taken from Good 
Housekeeping Magazine, copyright, 1907. 
Copyright, 1910, by Little, Brown & Company. 

Thanks are also due to the following pub- 
lishers for permission to reprint poems and 

stories on which they hold copyright: The 


viii Acknowledgments 

Century Company for four selections from 
St. Nicholas, '' The Little Gray Lamb '' by A. 
B. Sullivan, '' A Christmas Legend '' by Flor- 
ence Scannell, " Felix '' by Evaleen Stein, 
** The Child Jesus in the Garden;'' The 
Churchman Company for " The Blooming of 
the White Thorn'' by Edith M. Thomas; 
Doubleday, Page & Company for "• Neighbors 
of the Christ Night" by Nora Archibald 
Smith; E. P. Button & Company for '' The 
Sin of the Prince Bishop " by William Can- 
ton; Ginn & Company for '' Christmas Carol " 
from '' Open Sesame; " Mr. William Heine- 
mann for ^' The Flight into Egypt " by Selma 
Lagerlof; Houghton Mifflin Company for 
'' The Child Born at Bethlehem " by H. E. 
Scudder, ^* The Christmas Song of Csedmon '* 
by H. E. G. Pardee, " The Little Mud-Spar- 
rows " by Elizabeth Stuart Phelps. 

'' St. Christopher of the Gael " and '' The 
Cross of the Dumb " are included through the 
courtesy of Messrs. Duffield & Company. 
From ** Poems and Dramas " by Fiona Mac- 
leod, copyright, 1901, 1903, 1907, by Thomas 
B. Mosher ; 1910 by Duffield & Company. 

The selection ^^ Christmas at Greccio " 

Acknowledgments ix 

from *^ God's Troubadour '' by Sophie Jewett 
is included by special arrangement with T. Y. 
Crowell Company. ^* The Little Friend '' by 
Abbie Farwell Brown, ^^ Christmas Hymn " 
by E. W. Gilder, '' The Three Kings '' by H. 
W. Longfellow, and ^* The Star Bearer '' by 
E. C. Stedman are included by special arrange- 
ment with Houghton MifBin Company; and 
^* The Three Kings of Cologne " by Eugene 
Field, and ^* Earl Sigurd's Christmas Eve " 
by H. H. Boyesen, by special arrangement with 
Charles Scribner's Sons. 

The story of St. Christopher is taken chiefly 
from the ^* Golden Legend," but a few sug- 
gestions for its adaptation were obtained from 
a version by Olive Logan. 




"-The Gracious Time" 

The Adoration of the Shepherds 

St. Luke, II, 1-16 

The Child Born at Bethlehem 

Horace Elisha Scudder 

As Joseph Was A - Walking , 

Old English Carol 

The Peaceful Night 

John Milton 

The Christmas Silence . 

Margaret Deland 

Neighbors of the Christ Night 

Nora Archibald Smith 

Christmas Carol 

From the Neapolitan 

A Christmas Hymn 

Richard Watson Gilder 

The Song of a Shepherd -Boy at Bethle 

Josephine Preston Peabody 

The First Christmas Roses . 

Adapted from an Old Legend 

The Little Gray Lamb . 

Archibald Berbsford Sullivan 

The Holy Night 

Elizabeth Barrett Browning 
The Star Bearer 

Edmund Clarence Stedman 

The Visit of the Wise Men . 

St. Matthew, II, 1-12 









The Tiikee Kings 

Henry Wadswobth Longfellow 

The Three Holy Kings .... 

Adapted from the Golden Legend, and Other 

The Three Kings of Cologne 

Eugene Field 


Adelaide Skeel 

The Flight Into Egypt .... 


The Haughty Aspen . , . . 

Nora Archibald Smith 

The Little Mud - Sparrows 

Elizabeth Stuart Phelps 

The Children of Wind and the Clan of 

Fiona Maclbod 

The Child Jesus in the Garden . 

Author Unknown 

The Mystic Thorn 

Adapted from Traditional Sources 

The Blooming of the White Thorn 

Edith Matilda Thomas 

Legend of St. Christopher 

Adapted from the Golden Legend 

St. Christopher of the Gael 

Fiona Macleod 

The Cross of the Dumb 

Fiona Macleod 

The Christmas Song of C^edmon 

H. E. G. Pardee 

Good King Wenceslas .... 

John Mason Neale 

The Christmas at Greccio: A Story of St 

Sophie Jewett 

The Sin of the Prince Bishop 

William Canton 




81 , 





Contents xiii 


Eael Sigurd's Christmas Eve . . . 16.0 

Hjalmar Hjorth Boyesen 

A Christmas Legend ...... 172 • 

Florence Scannell 

The Legend op the Christmas Eose . .175 

Selma LagerlOf *■ — - 

^ F^LIX 205 

EvALBEN Stein 

The Sabot of Little Wolff . . . .232 

Franco IS Copr:6E 

\ 'The Little Friejnt) 240 

Abbie Fauwbll Brown 

Where Love Is, There God Is Also . . 258 
Count Lyof N. Tolstoi 


The First Christmas Night 

From Painting by Pierrey 



The Adoration of the Shepherds 

From Painting by Bouguereau 

Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem. Mark 
iNG THE Traditional Birthplace of 

l^HRIST • « a • • e 

From Photograph 

The Adoration of the Shepherds 

From Painting by Honthorst 

The Holy Kight 

From Painting by Grass 

The Wise Men Guided by the Star 

From Painting by Warren 

The Adoration of the Kings 

From Painting by Pfannschmidt 

The Flight into Egypt ...» 

From Painting by Bouguereau 

Eepose in Egypt 

From Painting by Merson 

The Christ - Child 

From Painting by Winterstein 

St. Joseph's Chapel. Glastonbury Abbey 

From Photograph 

St. Christopher, the Christ - Bearer . 

From Painting by Memling 

St. Francis 

From Painting by Francia 

Christmas Chimes 

From Painting by Blashfleld 

The Star of Bethlehem 

From Painting by Piglhein 

The Holy Night 

From Painting by Feuerstein 







AccoEDiNG to tradition, on the Holy Night 

there fell upon Bethlehem of Judea a strange 

and unnatural calm; the voices of the birds 

were hushed, water ceased to flow and the wind 

was stilled. But when the child Jesus was 

born all nature burst into new life; trees put 

forth green leaves, grass sprang up and 

bright flowers bloomed. To animals was 

granted the power of human speech and the ox 

and the ass knelt in their stalls in adoration 

of the infant Saviour. Then it was that the 

shepherds abiding in the field with their flocks 

heard the angels praising God, and kings of 

the Orient watching in their ^* far country '' 

saw ablaze in the heavens the long-expected 

sign. Even in distant Eome there sprang up 

a well or fountain which ** ran largely " and 


2 Christmas in Legend and Story 

the ancient prophetess, Sibyl, looking eastward 
from the Capitoline hill heard the angel song 
and saw in vision all the wonders of that night. 

There are many such traditional tales of the 
nativity, of the ^^ star-led wizards '^ and of 
the marvels wrought by the boy Christ. They 
tell of the bees singing their sweet hymn of 
praise to the Lord, of the palm-tree bending 
down its branches that the weary travellers 
fleeing from the wrath of Herod might be re- 
freshed by its fruit, of the juniper which 
opened to conceal them and of the sweet-smell- 
ing balsam which grew wherever the drops of 
moisture fell from the brow of the Boy ^* as 
He ran about or toiled in His loving service 
for His Mother." Quaint fancies some of 
these, perhaps, and not all of them worth pre- 
serving; but oftentimes beautiful, and with a 
germ of truth. 

From the centuries between then and now, 
come stories of holy men, of bishops and 
peasant-saints, and of brave men who preached 
the White Christ to the vikings of the north or 
on lona's isle. As in popular belief, with each 
returning eve of the nativity the miracles of 
the first Christmas happen again, so in these 

The Gracious Time 


tales the thorn-tree blossoms anew and wonder- 
ful roses bloom in the bleak forest. 

Other stories tell how on each Christmas eve 
the little Christ-child comes again to earth and 
wanders through village or town, while lighted 
candles are placed in the windows to guide 
Him on His way. 

These various legends and traditional tales, 
which sprang up among the people like flowers 
by the wayside and became a part of the life 
of the Middle Ages, are still of interest to us 
of to-day and have a distinct charm of their 
own. And when the childlike faith and beauty 
of thought of the finest of these have found ex- 
pression in literary form they seem particu- 
larly suited for our reading at ** the gracious 

St. Luke, II, 1 - 16 

And it came to pass in those days, that there 
went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that 
all the world should be taxed. 

And this taxing was first made when Cyre- 
nius was governor of Syria. 

And all went to be taxed, every one into his 
own city. 

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out 
of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the 
city of David, which is called Bethlehem; be- 
cause he was of the house and lineage of David : 

To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, 
being great with child. 

And so it was, that, while they were there, 
the days were accomplished that she should be 

And she brought forth her firstborn son, and 

wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid 

him in a manger; because there was no room 

for them in the inn. 


The Adoration of the Shepherds. 
From Painting by Bouguereau- 

The Adoration of the Shepherds 5 

And there were in the same country shep- 
herds abiding in the field, keeping watch over 
their flock by night. 

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon 
them, and the glory of the Lord shone round 
about them: and they were sore afraid. 

And the angel said unto them. Fear not : for, 
behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, 
which shall be to all people. 

For unto you is born this day in the city of 
David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. 

And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall 
find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, 
lying in a manger. 

And suddenly there was with the angel a 
multitude of the heavenly host praising God, 
and saying. 

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth 
peace, good will toward men. 

And it came to pass, as the angels were gone 
away from them into heaven, the shepherds 
said one to another. Let us now go even unto 
Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to 
pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. 

And they came with haste, and found Mary, 
and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger. 


Horace Elisha Scuddeb 

About six miles to the south of Jerusalem is 
the village of Bethlehem, lying along the slope 
and on the top of a gray hill, from the steep 
eastern end of which one looks over a broad 
plain, toward a range of high hills beyond. At 
any time, as one drew near the place, coming 
from Jerusalem, he would pass by rounded 
hills, and now and then cross little ravines with 
brooks, sometimes full of water, sometimes 
only beds of stone ; and, if it were spring-time, 
he would see the hills and valleys covered with 
their grass, and sprinkled abundantly with a 
great variety of wild flowers, daisies, poppies, 
the Star of Bethlehem, tulips and anemones — 
a broad sheet of color, of scarlet, white and 
green. Perhaps, very long ago, there were 
trees also where now there are none; and on 
those hills, gray with the stone that peeped out 
through the grass, stood the mighty cedars 


The Child Born at Bethlehem 7 

of Lebanon, stretching out their sweeping 
branches, and oaks, sturdy and rich with dark 
foliage, green the year round. At any rate, 
then, as now, we may believe that there were 
vineyards upon the sunny slopes, and we know 
that the wind blew over corn-fields covering 
the plains that lay between the ranges of hills. 
It is of the time long since that we are think- 
ing, when there were no massive buildings on 
Bethlehem hill, such as are to be seen in 
the town as it now appears. Instead, there 
were low houses, many of mud and sunburnt 
brick, some so poor, doubtless, that the cattle 
were stalled, if not in the same room with the 
people of the house, yet so near that they could 
be heard through the partition, stamping, and 
crunching their food. There was an inn there, 
also; but we must not think of it as like our 
modern public-houses, with a landlord and 
servants, where one could have, what he needed 
by paying for it. Eather, it was a collection of 
buildings for the convenience and accommoda- 
tion of travelers, who brought with them what- 
ever they required of food, and the means of 
preparing it, finding there only shelter and the 
roughest conveniences. The larger inns of this 

8 Christmas in Legend and Story 

sort were built in the form of a great court- 
yard surrounded by arcades, in which people 
stayed, and kept their goods, if they were 

The inn at Bethlehem was not probably one 
of these great caravanserais, — as they are 
called now in the East, because caravans stop 
at them; and it is even possible that the sta- 
bles about the inn were simply caves scooped 
out of the soft chalk rock, for the country there 
has an abundance of these caves used for this 
very purpose. 

From the hill on which Bethlehem stands, 
one can see travelers approaching, and at that 
time, long ago, no doubt the people who lived 
there saw companies of travelers, on foot or 
mounted, coming up to the village. For it was 
a busy time in Judea. The Emperor at Eome, 
the capital of the world, had ordered a tax to 
be laid upon his subjects, and first it had to be 
known just who were liable to be taxed. Now- 
adays, and in our country, people have their 
names taken down at the door of their own 
houses, and pay their tax in the town where 
they live. But then, in Judea, it was different. 
If a man had always lived in one place, and 






















The Child Born at Bethlehem 9 

his parents before him, well and good: there 
his name was taken down, and there he was 
taxed. But if he was of a family that had left 
another place, he went back to the old home, 
and there his name was registered. There 
were many, it may be, who at this time were 
visiting Bethlehem for this purpose. 

At least, we know of two amongst these trav- 
elers; devout and humble people they were; 
Joseph, a carpenter, living in Nazareth, a vil- 
lage of Galilee, sixty miles or more to the 
northward, and Mary, his wife. Together they 
were coming to Bethlehem, for while Nazareth 
was now their home, they were sprung from a 
family that once lived in Bethlehem, and 
though they were now poor and lowly, that 
family was the royal family, and King David, 
the greatest king that ever sat on the Jewish 
throne, was their ancestor. Perhaps, as they 
climbed the hill, they thought of Ruth, who had 
gleaned in the corn-fields just where they were 
passing, and no doubt they thought of Ruth's 
great-grandson. King David, who was born 
here, and here kept his father 's sheep, — such 
sheep as even now they could see on the hill- 
sides, watched by the watching shepherds. 

10 Christmas in Legend and Story 

They came, like the rest, to the caravanserai, 
but found it already filled with travelers. 
They could not have room with other men and 
women, and yet there was shelter to be had, 
for the place where the horses and beasts of 
burden stood was not all taken up. It may be 
that many of those now occupying the inn had 
come on Joseph's errand, and, not being mer- 
chants, had come unattended by the beasts that 
bore the goods of merchants, who were there 
occupying the inn; and what were they there 
for! We can only guess. All is forgotten of 
that gathering; men remember only the two 
travelers from Nazareth who could find no 
room in the inn, and made their resting-place 
by a manger. 

For there, away from the crowd, was born 
to Mary a child, whom she wrapped in swad- 
dling-clothes and laid in the manger. She was 
away from home; she was not even in a 
friend's house, nor yet in the inn; the Lord 
God had made ready a crib for the babe in the 
feeding-place of cattle. What gathering of 
friends could there be to rejoice over a child 
born in this solitary place? 

Yet there were some, friends of the child and 

The Child Born at Bethlehem 11 

of the child's mother, who welcomed its birth 
with great rejoicing. It may be that when 
Mary was laying Him upon His first hard 
earthly resting-place, there was, not far off, 
such a sight as never before was seen on earth. 
On the hilly slopes about Bethlehem were 
flocks of sheep that, day and night, cropped the 
grass, watched by shepherds, just as, so long 
before, young David, in the same place, had 
watched his father's sheep. These shepherds 
were devout men, who sang, we may easily 
believe, the songs which the shepherd David 
had taught them; and now, in the night-time, 
on the quiet slopes, as they kept guard over 
their flocks, out of the darkness appeared a 
heavenly visitor: whence he came they knew 
not, but round about him was a brightness 
which they knew could be no other than the 
brightness of His presence which God cast 
about His messengers. Great fear fell upon 
them — for who of mortals could stand before 
the heavenly beings? But the angel, quick to 
see their fear, spoke in words which were the 
words of men and fell in peaceful accents : — 

^* Fear not! " said he, ^' for see, I bring you 
glad tidings of a great joy that shall be to all 

12 Christmas in Legend and Story 

the people. For there has been born to you, 
this very day, a Saviour, who is the Holy Lord, 
born in the city of David ; and this shall be its 
sign to you: ye shall find a child wrapped in 
swaddling-clothes lying in a manger.'' 

And now, suddenly, before they could speak 
to the heavenly messenger, they saw, not him 
alone, but the place full of the like heavenly 
beings. A multitude was there ; they came not 
as if from some distant place, but as angels 
that ever stood round these shepherds. The 
eyes of the men were opened, and they saw, 
besides the grassy slopes and feeding sheep, 
and distant Bethlehem, and the stars above, a 
host of angels. Their ears were opened, and 
besides the moving sheep and rustling boughs, 
they heard from this great army of heavenly 
beings a song, rising to God and falling like a 
blessing upon the sleeping world : — 

** Glory to God in the highest 
And on earth peace, 
Good will to men.'' 

In the lowly manger, a little child; on the 
hillside pasture, a heavenly host singing His 
praises ! Then it was once more quiet, and the 

The Child Born at Bethlehem 13 

darkness was about the shepherds. They 
looked at one another and said, — ' ' Let us go, 
indeed, to Bethlehem, to see this thing that has 
come to pass, which the Lord hath made us 
know. ' ' 

So, in all haste, with the sound of that hymn 
of glory in their ears, they left the pasture and 
sought the town. They went to the inn, but 
they looked not there for the child; where the 
mangers were, there they sought Him, and 
found Him lying, and by Him Joseph and 
Mary. There were others by the new-born 
child, some who had doubtless come out from 
the inn at hearing of the birth. ^* Whence are 
these shepherds'? '' they might have said to 
themselves, ** and what has brought them to 
this birthplace? '' 

To all by the manger, the shepherds, their 
minds full of the strange sight they had wit- 
nessed, recount the marvel. They tell how one 
appeared with such brightness about him as in 
old times they had heard gave witness that the 
Lord God would speak to His peopl-e; how 
their fear at his presence was quieted by his 
strange and joyful words; and how, when he 
had said, ** Ye shall find a child wrapped in 

14 Christmas in Legend and Story 

swaddling-clothes, lying in a manger/' they 
suddenly were aware of a host of angels round 
about them sounding praise, to which God also 

Those to whom they told these things were 
amazed indeed at the strangeness. What did 
the marvel mean, they wondered. They could 
know no more than the shepherds had told 
them, and as for these men, they went away to 
their flocks again, praising God, for now they 
too, had seen the child, and it was all true, and 
with their human voice they caught up the song 
of rejoicing which had fallen from angelic lips. 

There was one who heard it all, and we may 
think did not say much or ask much, but laid 
it away in her heart. It was Mary, and she 
had, in the treasure-house where she put away 
this wonder, other thoughts and recollections in 
company with it. There, in her inmost heart, 
she kept the remembrance of a heavenly visitor 
who had appeared to her when she was alone, 
and had quieted her fear by words that told 
her of this coming birth, and filled her soul 
with the thought that He whom she should bear 
was to have the long-deserted throne and a 
kingdom without end. She remembered how. 

The Adoration of the Shepherds. 
From Painting by Honthorst. 

The Child Born at Bethlehem 15 

when she visited her cousin Elizabeth, she was 
greeted with a psalm of rejoicing that sprang 
to the lips of that holy woman, and from her 
own heart had come a psalm of response. 

And now the child was born — born in the 
place of David, yet born to be laid in a manger. 
A name had been given it by the angel, and 
she called the child Jesns; for Jesus means 
Saviour, and ** He shall,*' said the angel, 
** save His people from their sins.'' 

Old English Caeol 

As Joseph was a-walking 
He heard an angel sing : — 

** This night there shall be born 
Our heavenly King. 

** He neither shall be born 

In housen, nor in hall, 
Nor in the place of Paradise, 

But in an ox's stall. 

^^ He neither shall be clothed 

In purple nor in pall; 
But in the fair, white linen, 

That usen babies all. 

*' He neither shall be rocked 

In silver nor in gold. 
But in a wooden cradle 

That rocks on the mould. 

As Joseph Was A-Walking 17 

*' He neither shall be christened 

In white wine nor in red, 
But with fair spring water 

With which we were christened/' 

Mary took her baby, 

She dressed Him so sweet, 
She laid Him in a manger, 

All there for to sleep. 

As she stood over Him 

She heard angels sing, 
** bless our dear Saviour, 

Our heavenly King.'' 


John Milton 

But peaceful was the night 
Wherein the Prince of Light 

His reign of peace upon the earth began. 
The winds with wonder whist, 
Smoothly the waters kist, 

Whispering new joys to the mild Ocean, — 
Who now hath quite forgot to rave, 
While birds of calm sit brooding on the 
charmed wave. 

The stars, with deep amaze, 
Stand fixed in steadfast gaze. 

Bending one way their precious influence; 
And will not take their flight, 
For all the morning light. 

Or Lucifer that often warned them thence; 
But in their glimmering orbs did glow. 
Until their Lord himself bespake, and bid them 


The Holy Night. 
From Painting by Grass. 

The Peaceful Night 19 

Aild, though the shady gloom 
Had given day her room, 

The sun himself withheld his wonted speed, 
And hid his head for shame. 
As his inferior flame 

The new-enlightened world no more should 
He saw a greater Sun appear 
Than his bright throne or burning axletree 
could bear. 

Makgaket Deland 

Hushed are the pigeons cooing low 

On dusty rafters of the loft; 

And mild-eyed oxen, breathing soft, 
Sleep on the fragrant hay below. 

Dim shadows in the corner hide; 

The glimmering lantern's rays are shed 
Where one young lamb just lifts his head, 

Then huddles 'gainst his mother's side. 

Strange silence tingles in the air; 
Through the half-open door a bar 
Of light from one low-hanging star 

Touches a baby's radiant hair. 

No sound: the mother, kneeling, lays 
Her cheek against the little face. 
Oh human love ! Oh heavenly grace I 

'Tis yet in silence that she prays I 


The Christmas Silence 21 

Ages of silence end to-night; 
Then to the long-expectant earth 
Glad angels come to greet His birth 

In burst of music, love, and light! 


Nora Archibald Smith 

Deep in the shelter of the cave, 

The ass with drooping head 
Stood weary in the shadow, where 

His master's hand had led. 
About the manger oxen lay. 

Bending a wide-eyed gaze 
Upon the little new-born Babe, 

Half worship, half amaze. 
High in the roof the doves were set, 

And cooed there, soft and mild. 
Yet not so sweet as, in the hay. 

The Mother to her Child. 
The gentle cows breathed fragrant breath 

To keep Babe Jesns warm. 
While loud and clear, o'er hill and dale. 

The cocks crowed, * * Christ is born ! ' ' 
Out in the fields, beneath the stars. 

The young lambs sleeping lay, 


Neighbors of the Christ Night 23 

And dreamed that in the manger slept 
Another, white as they. 

These were Thy neighbors, Christmas Child; 

To Thee their love was given, 
For in Thy baby face there shone 

The wonder-light of Heaven. 


Fkom the Neapolitan 

When Christ was born in Bethlehem, 

^T was night, but seemed the noon of day; 

The stars, whose light 

"Was pure and bright. 
Shone with unwavering ray; 
But one, one glorious star 
Guided the Eastern Magi from afar. 

Then peace was spread throughout the land; 
The lion fed beside the tender lamb; 

And with the kid. 

To pasture led. 

The spotted leopard fed; 
In peace, the calf and bear. 
The wolf and lamb reposed together there. 

As shepherds watched their flocks by night, 

An angel, brighter than the sun's own light, 


Christmas Carol 25 

Appeared in air, 

And gently said, 

Fear not, — be not afraid, 
For lo ! beneath your eyes, 
Earth has become a smiling paradise. 


RiCHAED Watson Gilder 

Tell me what is this innumerable throng 

Singing in the heavens a loud angelic song? 

These are they who come with swift and shin- 
ing feet 

From round about the throne of God the Lord 
of Light to greet. 

Oh, who are these that hasten beneath the 

starry sky, 
As if with joyful tidings that through the 

world shall fly? 
The faithful shepherds these, who greatly 

were afeared 
When, as they watched their flocks by night, 

the heavenly host appeared. 

Who are these that follow across the hills of 

A star that westward hurries along the fields 

of light? 


A Christmas Hymn 27 

Three wise men from the east who myrrh and 

treasure bring 
To lay them at the feet of him their Lord and 

Christ and King. 

What babe new-born is this that in a manger 

Near on her lowly bed his happy mother lies. 
Oh, see the air is shaken with white and 

heavenly wings — 
This is the Lord of all the earth, this is the 

King of kings. 


Josephine Peeston Pea^body 

Sleep, Thou little Child of Mary: 

Rest Thee now. 
Though these hands be rough from shearing 

And the plough, 
Yet they shall not ever fail Thee, 
When the waiting nations hail Thee, 
Bringing palms unto their King. 

Now — I sing. 

Sleep, Thou little Child of Mary, 

Hope divine. 
If Thou wilt but smile upon me, 

I will twine 
Blossoms for Thy garlanding. 
Thou^rt so little to be King, 

God's Desire! 

Not a brier 
Shall be left to grieve Thy brow; 

Rest Thee now. 


Song of a Shepherd-Boy at Bethlehem 29 

Sleep, Thou little Child of Mary. 

Some fair day 
Wilt Thou, as Thou wert a brother, 

Come away 
Over hills and over hollow! 
All the lambs will up and follow, 
Follow but for love of Thee. 

Lov'st Thou me? 

Sleep, Thou little Child of Mary; 

Eest Thee now. 
I that watch am come from sheep-stead 

And from plough. 
Thou wilt have disdain of me 
When Thou'rt lifted, royally, 
Very high for all to see: 

Smilest Thou? 


Adapted feom an Old Legend 

The sun had dropped below the western 
hills of Judea, and the stillness of night had 
covered the earth. The heavens were illu- 
mined only by numberless stars, which shone 
the brighter for the darkness of the sky. No 
sound was heard but the occasional howl of a 
jackal or the bleat of a lamb in the sheepfold. 
Inside a tent on the hillside slept the shepherd, 
Berachah, and his daughter, Madelon. The 
little girl lay restless, — sleeping, waking, 
dreaming, until at last she roused herself and 
looked about her. 

** Father," she whispered, ** oh, my father, 
awake. I fear for the sheep." 

The shepherd turned himself and reached 
for his staff. '* What hearest thou, daughter? 
The dogs are asleep. Hast thou been bur- 
dened by an evil dream? " 

** Nay, but father," she answered, *' seest 


The First Christmas Roses 31 

thou not the light? Hearest thou not the 
voice? '^ 

Berachah gathered his mantle about him, 
rose, looked over the hills toward Bethlehem, 
and listened. The olive trees on yonder slope 
were casting their shadows in a marvellous 
light, unlike daybreak or sunset, or even the 
light of the moon. By the camp-fire below on 
the hillside the shepherds on watch were 
rousing themselves. Berachah waited and 
wondered, while Madelon clung to his side. 
Suddenly a sound rang out in the stillness. 
Madelon pressed still closer. 

** It is the voice of an angel, my daughter. 
What it means I know not. Neither under- 
stand I this light." Berachah fell on his knees 
and prayed. 

'' Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good 
tidings of great joy, which shall be to all 
people. For unto you is born this day in the 
city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the 
Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye 
shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling 
clothes, lying in a manger." 

The voice of the angel died away, and the 
air was filled with music. Berachah raised 

32 Christmas in Legend and Story 

Madelon to her feet. " Ah, daughter/^ said 
he, ^* It is the wonder night so long expected. 
To us hath it been given to see the sign. It 
is the Messiah who hath come, the Messiah, 
whose name shall be called Wonderful, Coun- 
sellor, the mighty God, the Everlasting 
Father, the Prince of Peace. He it is who 
shall reign on the throne of David, he it is 
who shall redeem Israel." 

Slowly up the hillside toiled the shepherds 
to the tent of Berachah, their chief, who rose 
to greet them eagerly. 

'' What think you of the wonder night and 
of the sign? '' he queried. ^* Are we not 
above all others honored, thus to learn of the 
Messiah *s coming? '* 

" Yea, and Berachah,'' replied their spokes- 
man, Simon, '^ believest thou not that we 
should worship the infant King? Let us now 
go to Bethlehem, and see this thing which has 
come to pass.'' 

A murmur of protest came from the edge of 
the circle, and one or two turned impatiently 
away, whispering of duty toward flocks, and 
the folly of searching for a new-born baby in 
the city of Bethlehem. Hardheaded, practical 

The. First Christmas Roses 33 

men were these, whose hearts had not been 
touched by vision or by song. 

The others, however, turned expectantly 
toward Berachah, awaiting his decision. 
a Truly, ^' said Jude, ** the angel of the Lord 
hath given us the sign in order that we might 
go to worship Him. How can we then do other- 
wise? We shall find Him, as we have heard, 
lying in a manger. Let us not tarry, but let 
us gather our choicest treasures to lay at His 
feet, and set out without delay across the hills 
toward Bethlehem.'' 

^* Oh, my father," whispered Madelon, 
*^ permit me to go with thee.'' Berachah did 
not hear her, but turned and bade the men 
gather together their gifts. 

'' I, too, father? " asked Madelon. Still 
Berachah said nothing. Madelon slipped back 
into the tent, and throwing her arms around 
Melampo, her shepherd dog, whispered in his 

Soon the shepherds returned with their 
gifts. Simple treasures they were, — a pair 
of doves, a fine wool blanket, some eggs, some 
honey, some late autumn fruits. Berachah 
had searched for the finest of his flock, — a 

34 Christmas in Legend and Story 

snow-white lamb. Across the hills toward 
Bethlehem in the quiet, star-lit night they 
journeyed. As they moved silently along, the 
snow beneath their feet was changed to grass 
and flowers, and the icicles which had dropped 
from the trees covered their pathway like 
stars in the Milky Way. 

Following at a distance, yet close enough to 
see them, came Madelon with Melampo at her 
heels. Over the hills they travelled on until 
Madelon lost sight of their own hillside. 
Farther and farther the shepherds went until 
they passed David's well, and entered the city. 
Berachah led the way. 

"" How shall we know! '' whispered Simon. 
And the others answered, '' Hush, we must 
await the sign.'' 

When at last they had compassed the cres- 
cent of Bethlehem's hills, they halted by an 
open doorway at a signal from their leader. 
** The manger," they joyfully murmured, 
** the manger! We have found the new-born 
King! " 

One by one the shepherds entered. One by 
one they fell on their knees. Away in the 
shadow stood the little girl, her hand on 

The First Christmas Roses 35 

Melampo's head. In wonder she gazed while 
the shepherds presented their gifts, and were 
permitted each to hold for a moment the new- 
born Saviour. 

Melampo, the shepherd dog, crouched on the 
ground, as if he too, like the ox and the ass 
within, would worship the Child. Madelon 
turned toward the darkness weeping. Then, 
lifting her face to heaven, she prayed that 
God would bless Mother and Baby. Melampo 
moved closer to her, dumbly offering his com- 
panionship, and, raising his head, seemed to 
join in her petition. Once more she looked at 
the worshipping circle. 

" Alas,'* she grieved, ^^ no gift have I for 
the infant Saviour. Would that I had but a 
flower to place in His hand.'' 

Suddenly Melampo stirred by her side, and 
as she turned again from the manger she saw 
before her an angel, the light from whose 
face illumined the darkness, and whose look 
of tenderness rested on her tear-stained 

^< Why grievest thou, maiden? " asked the 

** That I come empty-handed to the cradle 

36 Christmas in Legend and Story 

of the Saviour, that I bring no gift to greet 
Him,'' she murmured. 

^* The gift of thine heart, that is the best of 
all," answered the angel. '' But that thou 
mayst carry something to the manger, see, I 
will strike with my staff upon the ground.'' 

Wonderingly Madelon waited. From the 
dry earth wherever the angel's staff had 
touched sprang fair, white roses. Timidly she 
stretched out her hand toward the nearest 
ones. In the light of the angel's smile she 
gathered them, until her arms were filled with 
flowers. Again she turned toward the man- 
ger, and quietly slipped to the circle of kneel- 
ing shepherds. 

Closer she crept to the Child, longing, yet 
fearing, to offer her gift. 

** How shall I know," she pondered, 
** whether He will receive this my gift as His 
own? " 

Berachah gazed in amazement at Madelon 
and the roses which she held. How came his 
child there, his child whom he had left safe on 
the hillside? And whence came such flowers! 
Truly this was a wonder night. 

Step by step she neared the manger, knelt, 

The First Christmas Roses 37 

and placed a rose in the Baby's hand. As the 
shepherds watched in silence, Mary bent over 
her Child, and Madelon waited for a sign. 
^^ Will He accept them! '' she questioned. 
^^ How, oh, how shall I know? '' As she 
prayed in humble silence, the Baby's eyes 
opened slowly, and over His face spread a 


Aechibald Beresfoed Sullivan- 
Out on the endless purple hills, deep in the 

clasp of somber night, 
The shepherds guarded their weary ones — 
guarded their flocks of cloudy white, 
That like a snowdrift in silence lay. 
Save one little lamb with its fleece of gray. 

Out on the hillside all alone, gazing afar with 

sleepless eyes, 
The little gray lamb prayed soft and low, its 
weary face to the starry skies: 
** moon of the heavens so fair, so bright. 
Give me — oh, give me — a fleece of white ! ' ' 

No answer came from the dome of blue, nor 

comfort lurked in the cypress-trees; 
But faint came a whisper borne along on the 
scented wings of the passing breeze: 
'* Little gray lamb that prays this night, 
I cannot give thee a fleece of white." 


The Little Gray Lamb 39 

Then the little gray lamb of the sleej)less eyes 
pray;ed to the clouds for a coat of snpw, 
Asked of the roses, besought the woods; but 
each gave answer sad and low: 
** Little gray lamb that prays this night, 
'VK^L cannot give thee a fleece of white/' 

l^ Like a gena unlocked from a casket dark, like 
an ocean pearl from its bed of blue. 
Came, softly stealing the clouds between, a 
wonderful sjax which bri^ter grew 
Until it flamed like the sun by day 
Over the place where Jesus lay. 

Ere hushed were the angels' notes of praise 

the JQxf^l shepherds/oaa quickly sped 
Past rock and shadow, adown the hill, to kneel 
at the Saviour's lowly bed; 
While, like the spirits of phantom night, 
Followed their flocks — their flocks of whitCc 

And patiently, longingly, out of the night, 

apart from the others, — far apart, — 
Came limpjiig and sorrowful, all alone, the 
little gray lamb of the weary heart. 
Murmuring, ^^ I must bide far away: 
I am not worthy — my fleece is gray. ' ' 

40 Christmas in Legend and Story 

And the Christ Child looked upon humbled 

pride, at kings bent low on the earthen 

But gazed beyond at the saddened heart of the 

little gray lamb at the open door; 
And he called it up to his manger low and laid 

his hand on its wrinkled face, 
"While the kings drew golden robes aside to 

give to the weary one a place. 
And the fleece of the little gray lamb was 

blest : 
For, lo! it was whiter than all the rest! 

In many cathedrals grand and dim, whose win- 
dows glimmer with pane and lens. 

Mid the odor of incense raised in prayer, hal- 
lowed about with last amens. 

The infant Saviour is pictured fair, with 
kneeling Magi wise and old, 

But his baby-hand rests — not on the gifts, the 
myrrh, the frankincense, the gold — 
But on the head, with a heavenly light. 
Of the little gray lamb that was changed to 


Elizabeth Babeett Beowning 

We sate among the stalls at Bethlehem; 
The dumb kine from their fodder turning 

Softened their horned faces 

To almost human gazes 

Toward the newly Born: 
The simple shepherds from the star-lit brooks 

Brought visionary looks, 
As yet in their astonied hearing rung 

The strange sweet angel-tongue: 
The magi of the East, in sandals worn, 

Knelt reverent, sweeping round. 

With long pale beards, their gifts upon 
the ground. 

The incense, myrrh, and gold 
These baby hands were impotent to hold: 
So let all earthlies and celestials wait 

Upon thy royal state. 

Sleep, sleep, my kingly One! 



Edmund Clarence Stedman 

There were seven angels erst that spanned 
Heaven's roadway out through space, 

Lighting with stars, by God's command, 
The fringe of that high place 

Whence plumed beings in their joy, 

The servitors His thoughts employ. 
Fly ceaselessly. No goodlier band 
Looked upward to His face. 

There, on bright hovering wings that tire 

Never, they rested mute. 
Nor of far journeys had desire, 

Nor of the deathless fruit; 
For in and through each angel soul 
All waves of life and knowledge roll. 

Even as to nadir streamed the fire 
Of their torches resolute. 


The Star Bearer 43 

They lighted MichaePs outpost through 

Where fly the armored brood, 
And the wintry Earth their omens knew 

Of Spring's beatitude; 
Rude folk, ere yet the promise came, 
Gave to their orbs a heathen name. 

Saying how steadfast in men's view 
The watchful Pleiads stood. 

All in the solstice of the year. 

When the sun apace must turn. 
The seven bright angels 'gan to hear 

Heaven's twin gates outward yearn: 
Forth with its light and minstrelsy 
A lordly troop came speeding by. 

And joyed to see each cresset sphere 
So gloriously burn. 

Staying his fearless passage then 

The Captain of that host 
Spake with strong voice: '' We bear to men 

God's gift the uttermost. 
Whereof the oracle and sign 
Sibyl and sages may divine: 

A star shall blazon in their ken. 
Borne with us from your post. 

44 Christmas in Legend and Story 

'' This night the Heir of Heaven's throne 

A new-born mortal lies! 
Since Earth's first morning hath not shone 

Such joy in seraph eyes.'' 
He spake. The least in honor there 
Answered with longing like a prayer, — 

** My star, albeit thenceforth unknown, 
Shall light for you Earth's skies." 

Onward the blessed legion swept, 

That angel at the head; 
(Where seven of old their station kept 

There are six that shine instead.) 
Straight hitherward came troop and star; 
Like some celestial bird afar 

Into Earth's night the cohort leapt 
With beauteous wings outspread. 

Dazzling the East beneath it there, 

The Star gave out its rays : 
Eight through the still Judean air 

The shepherds see it blaze, — 
They see the plume-borne heavenly throng. 
And hear a burst of that high song 

Of which in Paradise aware 

Saints count their years but days. 

The, Star Bearer 45 

For they sang such music as, I deem, 

In God's chief court of joys. 
Had stayed the flow of the crystal stream 

And made souls in mid-flight poise ; 
They sang of Glory to Him most High, 
Of Peace on Earth abidingly, 

And of all delights the which, men dream; 
Nor sin nor grief alloys. 

Breathless the kneeling shepherds heard, 
Charmed from their first rude fear. 

Nor while that music dwelt had stirred 
Were it a month or year: 

And Mary Mother drank its flow, 

Couched with her Babe divine, — and, lo ! 
Ere falls the last ecstatic word 
Three Holy Kings draw near. 

Whenas the star-led shining train 
Wheeled from their task complete. 

Skyward from over Bethlehem's plain 
They sped with rapture fleet; 

And the angel of that orient star, 

Thenceforth where Heaven's lordliest are. 
Stands with a harp, while Christ doth reign, 
A seraph near His feet. 

St. Matthew, II, 1-12 

Now when Jesus was born in BetMehem of 
Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, 
there came wise men from the east to Jeru- 

Saying, Where is he that is born King of 
the Jews I for we have seen his star in the 
east, and are come to worship him. 

When Herod the king had heard these things, 
he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. 

And when he had gathered all the chief 
priests and scribes of the people together, he 
demanded of them where Christ should be 

And they said unto him. In Bethlehem of 
Judaea : for thus it is written by the prophet. 

And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, 
art not the least among the princes of Judah: 
for out of thee shall come a Governor, that 
shall rule my people Israel. 


The Visit of the Wise Men 4ti 

Then Herod, when he had privily called the 
wise men, inquired of them diligently what 
time the star appeared. 

And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, 
Go and search diligently for the young child; 
and when ye have found him, bring me word 
again, that I may come and worship him also. 

When they had heard the king, they de- 
parted; and, lo, the star, which they saw in 
the east, went before them, till it came and 
stood over where the young child was. 

When they saw the star, they rejoiced with 
exceeding great joy. 

And when they were come into the house, 
they saw the young child with Mary his 
mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: 
and when they had opened their treasures, 
they presented unto him gifts; gold, and 
frankincense, and myrrh. 

And being warned of God in a dream that 
they should not return to Herod, they de- 
parted into their own country another way. 


Heney Wadswokth Longfellow 

Three Kings came riding from far away, 
Melchior and Gaspar and Baltasar; 
Three Wise Men out of the East were they, 
And they travelled by night and they slept by 

For their guide was a beautiful, wonderful 


The star was so beautiful, large, and clear, 

That all the other stars of the sky 
Became a white mist in the atmosphere, 
And by this they knew that the coming was 
Of the Prince foretold in the prophecy. 

Three caskets they bore on their saddle-bows, 

Three caskets of gold with golden keys; 
Their robes were of crimson silk with rows 
Of bells and pomegranates and furbelows, 
Their turbans like blossoming almond-trees. 


The Three Kings 49 

And so the Three Kings rode into the West, 

Through the dusk of night, over hill and dell. 
And sometimes they nodded with beard on 

And sometimes talked, as they paused to rest. 
With the people they met at some wayside 

** Of the child that is born,'' said Baltasar, 

** Good people, I pray you, tell us the news; 
For we in the East have seen his star, 
And have ridden fast, and have ridden far, 
To find and worship the King of the Jews." 

And the people answered, ^* You ask in vain; 

We know of no king but Herod the Great ! ' ' 
They thought the Wise Men were men insane, 
As they spurred their horses across the plain. 

Like riders in haste, and who cannot wait. 

And when they came to Jerusalem, 

Herod the Great, who had heard this thing. 

Sent for the Wise Men and questioned them; 

And said, '^ Go down unto Bethlehem, 
And bring me tidings of this new king." 

50 Christmas in Legend and Story 

So they rode away; and the star stood still, 
The only one in the gray of morn; 

Yes, it stopped, — it stood still of its own free 

Eight over Bethlehem on the hill. 

The city of David, where Christ was born. 

And the Three Kings rode through the gate 
and the guard, 
Through the silent street, till their horses 
And neighed as they entered the great inn- 
But the windows were closed, and the doors 
were barred. 
And only a light in the stable burned. 

And cradled there in the scented hay. 

In the air made sweet by the breath of kine, 
The little child in the manger lay, 
The child, that would be king one day 
Of a kingdom not human but divine. 

His mother Mary of Nazareth 

Sat watching beside his place of rest, 
Watching the even flow of his breath. 

The Three Kings 51 

For the joy of life and the terror of death 
Were mingled together in her breast. 

They laid their offerings at his feet: 
The gold was their tribute to a King, 

The frankincense, with its odor sweet, 

Was for the Priest, the Paraclete, 
The myrrh for the body's burying. 

And the mother wondered and bowed her head, 

And sat as still as a statue of stone; 
Her heart was troubled yet comforted, 
Remembering what the Angel had said 
Of an endless reign and of David's throne. 

Then the Kings rode out of the city gate. 
With a clatter of hoofs in proud array; 
But they went not back to Herod the Great, 
For they knew his malice and feared his hate. 
And returned to their homes by another way. 


Adapted from the Golden Legend, and Other 


In a far country, in the days before Jesus 
was born in Judea, there were great astrolo- 
gers who studied the heavens by night and by 
day, for they knew of the prophecy which said 
that a star shall be born or spring out of Jacob, 
and a man shall arise of the lineage of Israel. 
And twelve of them were chosen to take heed, 
who every year ascended upon a mountain 
which was called the Hill of Victory. Three 
days they abode there, and prayed our Lord 
that He would show to them the star that 
Balaam had said and prophesied. 

Now it happened on a time, that they were 
there on the day of the Nativity of Jesus 
Christ, and a star came over them upon this 
mountain, which had the form of a right fair 
child, and under his head was a shining cross, 
and from this cross came a voice saying: ** To- 
day is there born a King in Judea." 


The Three Holy Kings 53 

Now in Arabia, the land in which the soil is 
red with gold, there reigned a king called Mel- 
chior. And in Saba, where frankincense flows 
from the trees, the king Balthasar ruled. And 
in the land where myrrh hangs from the 
bushes, the kingdom of Tharsis, reigned a 
third king, called Caspar. These three kings 
also saw the star and heard the voice, and 
they each made ready to go on a journey. 
And no one of the three knew that the others 
intended thus to make a pilgrimage. And they 
gathered together their treasures to present to 
the king whom they should seek, and summoned 
those who should attend them. So each set out 
with a great company and great estate. And 
as they journeyed they found the mountains 
made level as the plains, while the swollen 
rivers became as dry land. And never did 
they lose sight of the star, which shined upon 
them as the sun, always moving before them 
to guide them on their way. 

But when they were come within two miles 
of Jerusalem, the star disappeared, a heavy 
fog arose, and each party halted; Melchior, 
as it fell out, taking his stand on Mount 
Calvary, Balthasar on the Mount of Olives, 

54 Christmas in Legend and Story 

and Caspar just between them. And when the 
fog cleared away, each was astonished to see 
two other great companies besides his own, and 
then the kings first discovered that all had 
come upon the same errand, and they em- 
braced with great joy, and rode together into 

And when they came into the city, Herod 
and all the people were troubled, because of 
their so great company like unto an army. 
Then they demanded in what place the King 
of the Jews was born, for, said they, ** "We 
have seen His star in the Orient, and therefore 
we come to worship Him.'' And when Herod 
had heard this, he was much troubled, and all 
Jerusalem with him. Then Herod called all 
the priests of the law, and the doctors, and de^ 
manded of them where Jesus Christ should be 
born. And when he had understood them that 
He should be born in Bethlehem, he called the 
three kings apart and demanded of them dili- 
gently the time that the star appeared to 
them. And he said to them that as soon as 
they should have found the Child and have 
worshipped Him, that they should return and 
show it to him, feigning that he would worship 

The Three Holy Kings 55 

Him also, though he thought that he would 
go to slay Him. 

And as soon as the kings were entered into 
Jerusalem, the sight of the star was taken from 
them. But when they were issued out of the 
city, the star appeared again and went before 
them, until it came above the place in Bethle- 
hem where the Child was. And they had jour- 
neyed now full thirteen days. 

And when they had entered into the place 
they worshipped the young Child, and Mary, 
His mother. Now the kings had brought great 
treasures with them, for it must be known that 
all that Alexander the Great left at his death, 
and all that the Queen of Sheba gave to King 
Solomon, and all that Solomon collected for 
the temple, had descended to the three kings 
from their ancestors; and all this they had 
now brought with them. But when they had 
bowed down before the Child, they were filled 
with fear and amazement because of the so 
great light which was in the place. And they 
each offered quickly the first thing that came 
to their hands, and forgot all their other gifts. 
Melchior offered thirty golden pennies, Baltha- 
sar gave frankincense, and Caspar myrrh ; but 

56 Christmas in Legend and Story 

all else they quite forgot, and only remembered 
that they bowed before the Child, and said, 
'' Thanks be to God.'' 

And when they would have stayed to do 
honor to the Holy Child, an angel came to them 
in a dream, to warn them against Herod, who 
would do them harm. So they departed each 
to his own country, journeying for two years. 
And they preached unto the people, telling 
them of the new-born King, and everywhere 
upon the temples men placed the figures of a 
star, the Child, and a cross. 

Now it happened years later that St. 
Thomas the Apostle journeyed to the far 
country to preach, and that he wondered why 
the star was placed upon the temples. Then 
the priests in those temples told him about the 
three kings and how they had journeyed to 
Bethlehem and had seen the young Child. 

And the three kings were very old and fee- 
ble, but when they heard about St. Thomas, 
each set out from his own place to go to 
meet him. And when they had come together 
they builded them a city, and lived together 
there for two years, worshipping God and 

The Adoration of the Kings. 
From Painting by Pfannschmidt. 

The Three Holy Kings 67 

preaching. Then Melchior died, and was 
buried in a large and costly tomb. And when 
Balthasar died, he, too, was buried there. 
And at last Caspar was placed beside his com- 

Now in the days of Constantine the Great, 
his mother Helena determined to find the bod- 
ies of the three kings, and for this she made 
a journey to the far country. And when she 
had found them, she brought them to Constan- 
tinople to the Church of St. Sophia, where 
they were held in much honor. And from Con- 
stantinople they were taken to Milan, where 
again many pilgrims came. Now when Fred- 
erick Barbarossa laid siege to the city of 
Milan, he rejoiced above all else to find them 
there. And by him they were taken to Co- 
logne, and there a golden shrine was built in 
which the bones of the three holy kings were 
placed that there they might remain until the 
Judgment day. 

Eugene Field 

Fkom out Cologiie there came three kings 

To worship Jesus Christ, their King. 
To Him they sought fine herbs they brought, 

And many a beauteous golden thing; 

They brought their gifts to Bethlehem 

And in that manger set them down. 

Then spake the first king, and he said : 

^^ Child, most heavenly, bright, and fair! 

I bring this crown to Bethlehem town 
For Thee, and only Thee, to wear; 
So give a heavenly crown to me 
When I shall come at last to Thee! *' 

The second, then. ** I bring Thee here 
This royal robe, Child! " he cried; 

** Of silk ^tis spun, and such an one 
There is not in the world beside; 


The Three Kings of Cologne 59 

So in the day of doom requite 

Me with a heavenly robe of white! '' 

The third king gave his gift, and quoth: 
^^ Spikenard and myrrh to Thee I bring, 

And with these twain would I most fain 
Anoint the body of my King; 
So may their incense sometime rise 
To plead for me in yonder skies! '' 

Thus spake the three kings of Cologne, 
That gave their gifts and went their way; 

And now kneel I in prayer hard by 
The cradle of the Child to-day; 
Nor crown, nor robe, nor spice I bring 
As offering unto Christ, my King. 

Yet have I brought a gift the Child 
May not despise, however small; 

For here I lay my heart to-day, 
And it is full of love to all. 
Take Thou the poor but loyal thing, 
My onfy tribute, Christ, my King! 


Adelaide Skeel 

If you were a Eussian child you would not 
watch to see Santa Klaus come down the chim- 
ney; but you would stand by the windows to 
catch a peep at poor Babouscka as she hurries 


Who is Babouscka? Is she Santa Klaus' 

No, indeed. She is only a poor little crooked 
wrinkled old woman, who comes at Christmas 
time into everybody's house, who peeps into 
every cradle, turns back every coverlid, drops 
a tear on the baby's white pillow, and goes 
away very sorrowful. 

And not only at Christmas time, but 
through all the cold winter, and especially in 
March, when the wind blows loud, and whistles 
and howls and dies away like a sigh, the Eus- 
sian children hear the rustling step of the 
Babouscka. She is always in a hurry. One 


Bdbouscka 61 

Hears her running fast along the crowded 
streets and over the quiet country fields. She 
seems to be out of breath and tired, yet she 
hurries on. 

Whom is she trying to overtake? 

She scarcely looks at the little children as 
they press their rosy faces against the window 
pane and whisper to each other, *^ Is the Ba- 
bouscka looking for us? '' 

No, she will not stop; only on Christmas 
eve will she come up-stairs into the nursery 
and give each little one a present. You must 
not think she leaves handsome gifts such as 
Santa Klaus brings for you. She does not 
bring bicycles to the boys or French dolls to 
the girls. She does not come in a gay little 
sleigh drawn by reindeer, but hobbling along 
on foot, and she leans on a crutch. She has 
her old apron filled with candy and cheap toys, 
and the children all love her dearly. They 
watch to see her come, and when one hears 
a rustling, he cries, * * Lo ! the Babouscka ! ' ' 
then all others look, but one must turn one's 
head very quickly or she vanishes. I never 
saw her myself. 

Best of all, she loves little babies, and often, 

62 Christmas in Legend and Story 

when the tired mothers sleep, she bends over 
their cradles, puts her brown, wrinkled face 
close down to the pillow and looks very sharply. 

What is she looking forf 

Ah, that you can't guess unless you know 
her sad story. 

Long, long ago, a great many yesterdays 
ago, the Babouscka, who was even then an old 
woman, was busy sweeping her little hut. She 
lived in the coldest corner of cold Eussia, and 
she lived alone in a lonely place where four 
wide roads met. These roads were at this 
time white with snow, for it was winter time. 
In the summer, when the fields were full of 
flowers and the air full of sunshine and sing- 
ing birds, Babouscka 's home did not seem so 
very quiet; but in the winter, with only the 
snow-flakes and the shy snow-birds and the 
loud wind for company, the little old woman 
felt very cheerless. But she was a busy old 
woman, and as it was already twilight, and 
her home but half swept, she felt in a great 
hurry to finish her work before bed-time. You 
must know the Babouscka was poor and could 
not afford to do her work by candle-light. 
Presently, down the widest and the lonesom- 

Bahouscka 63 

est of the white roads, there appeared a long 
train of people coming. They were walking 
slowly, and seemed to be asking each other 
questions as to which way they should take. 
As the procession came nearer, and finally 
stopped outside the little hut, Babouscka was 
frightened at the splendor. There were Three 
Kings, with crowns on their heads, and the 
jewels on the Kings* breastplates sparkled like 
sunlight. Their heavy fur cloaks were white 
with the falling snow-flakes, and the queer 
humpy camels on which they rode looked white 
as milk in the snow-storm. The harness on 
the camels was decorated with gold, and plates 
of silver adorned the saddles. The saddle- 
cloths were of the richest Eastern stuffs, and 
all the servants had the dark eyes and hair 
of an Eastern people. 

The slaves carried heavy loads on their 
backs, and each of the Three Kings carried 
a present. One carried a beautiful transpar- 
ent jar, and in the fading light Babouscka 
could see in it a golden liquid which she knew 
from its color must be myrrh. Another had in 
his hand a richly woven bag, and it seemed to 
be heavy, as indeed it was, for it was full of 

64 Christmas in Legend and Story 

gold. The third had a stone vase in his hand, 
and from the rich perfume which filled the 
snowy air, one could guess the vase to have 
been filled with incense. 

Babouscka was terribly frightened, so she 
hid herself in her hut, and let the servants 
knock a long time at her door before she dared 
open it and answer their questions as to the 
road they should take to a far-away town. 
You know she had never studied a geography 
lesson in her life, was old and stupid and 
scared. She knew the way across the fields 
to the nearest village, but she knew nothing 
else of all the wide world full of cities. The 
servants scolded, but the Three Kings spoke 
kindly to her, and asked her to accompany 
them on their journey that she might show 
them the way as far as she knew it. They 
told her, in words so simple that she could not 
fail to understand, that they had seen a Star . 
in the sky and were following it to a little 
town where a young Child lay. The snow was 
in the sky now, and the Star was lost out of 

^^ Who is the Child? '' asked the old woman. 

** He is a King, and we go to worship him," 

Bahouscka 65 

they answered. '* These presents of gold, 
frankincense and myrrh are for Him. When 
we find Him we will take the crowns off our 
heads and lay them at His feet. Come with 
us, Babouscka! " 

What do you suppose? Shouldn't you have 
thought the poor little woman would have 
been glad to leave her desolate home on the 
plains to accompany these Kings on their 
journey ? 

But the foolish woman shook her head. No, 
the night was dark and cheerless, and her little 
home was warm and cosy. She looked up into 
the sky, and the Star was nowhere to be seen. 
Besides, she wanted to put her hut in order — 
perhaps she would be ready to go to-morrow. 
But the Three Kings could not wait; so when 
to-morrow's sun rose they were far ahead on 
their journey. It seemed like a dream to poor 
Babouscka, for even the tracks of the camels' 
feet were covered by the deep white snow. 
Everything was the same as usual; and to 
make sure that the night's visitors had not 
been a fancy, she found her old broom hang- 
ing on a peg behind the door, where she had 
put it when the servants knocked. 

66 Christmas in Legend and Story 

Now that the sim was shining, and she re- 
membered the glitter of the gold and the smell 
of the sweet gums and myrrh, she wished she 
had gone with the travellers. 

And she thouf lit a great deal abont the little 
Baby the Three Kings had gone to worship. 
She had no children of her own — nobody 
loved her — ah, if she had only gone! The 
more she brooded on the thought, the more 
miserable she grew, till the very sight of her 
home became hateful to her. 

It is a dreadful feeling to realize that one 
has lost a chance of happiness. There is a 
feeling called remorse that can gnaw like a 
sharp little tooth. Babouscka felt this little 
tooth cut into her heart every time she re- 
membered the visit of the Three Kings. 

After a while the thought of the Little Child 
became her first thought at waking and her last 
at night. One day she shut the door of her 
house forever, and set out on a long journey. 
She had no hope of overtaking the Three 
Kings, but she longed to find the Child, that 
she too might love and worship Him. She 
asked every one she met, and some people 
thought her crazy, but others gave her kind 

Babouscka 67 

answers. Have you perhaps guessed that the 
young Child whom the Three Kings sought 
was our Lord himself! 

People told Babouscka how He was born in 
a manger, and many other things which you 
children have learned long ago. These an- 
swers puzzled the old dame mightily. She had 
but one idea in her ignorant head. The Three 
Kings had gone to seek a Baby. She would, 
if not too late, seek Him too. 

She forgot, I am sure, how many long years 
had gone by. She looked in vain for the 
Christ-child in His manger-cradle. She spent 
all her little savings in toys and candy so as 
to make friends with little children, that they 
might not run away when she came hobbling 
into their nurseries. 

Now you know for whom she is sadly seek- 
ing when she pushes back the bed-curtains and 
bends down over each baby's pillow. Some- 
times, when the old grandmother sits nodding 
by the fire, and the bigger children sleep in 
their beds, old Babouscka comes hobbling into 
the room, and whispers softly, ** Is the young 
Child here? " 

Ah, no ; she has come too late, too late. But 

68 Christmas in Legend and Story 

the little children know her and love her. Two 
thousand years ago she lost the chance of find- 
ing Him. Crooked, wrinkled, old, sick and 
sorry, she yet lives on, looking into each baby's 
face — always disappointed, always seeking. 
Will she find Him at last? 


Selma Lageelof 

Fab away, in a desert in the East, there 
grew, many years ago, a palm that was very, 
very old, and very, very tall. No one passing 
through the desert could help stopping to look 
at it, for it was mnch higher than other palms, 
and people said of it that it would surely grow 
to be higher than the Obelisks and Pyramids. 

This great palm, standing in its loneliness, 
and looking over the desert, one day saw some- 
thing which caused its huge crown of leaves 
to wave to and fro with surprise on its slender 
stem. On the outskirts of the desert two lonely 
persons were wandering. They were still so 
far away that even a camel would have looked 
no larger than an ant at that distance, but they 
were assuredly human beings, two who were 
strangers to the desert — for the palm knew 
the people of the desert — a man and a woman, 
who had neither guide, nor beasts of burden, 
nor tent, nor water-bag. 


70 Christmas in Legend and Story 

'*• Verily/^ said the palm to itself, '^ these 
two have come hither to die.'' 

The palm looked quickly around. 

*^ I am surprised,'' it said, " that the lions 
have not already gone out to seize their prey. 
But I do not see a single one about. Nor do I 
see any of the robbers of the desert. But they 
are sure to come. 

u There awaits them a sevenfold death," 
thought the palm. '' The lions will devour 
them, the serpents will sting them, thirst will 
consume them, the sand-storm will bury them, 
the robbers will kill them, the burning sun will 
overcome them, fear will destroy them. ' ' 

The palm tried to think of something else; 
the fate of these two made it sad. But in tho 
inuneasurable desert around it there was not a 
single thing that the palm had not known and 
gazed at for thousands of years. Nothing 
could attract its attention. It was again 
obliged to think of the two wanderers. 

* ' By the drought and the wind ! ' ' said the 
palm, invoking the two greatest enemies of 
life, ** what is the woman carrying on her arm? 
I believe these mad people have a little child 
with them! " 

The Flight into Egypt 71 

The palm, which was long-sighted, as the 
aged generally are, saw aright. The woman 
carried in her arms a child, that had laid its 
head on her hreast and was sleeping. 

*^ The child has not even enough clothes on,'' 
said the palm. ** I see that the mother has 
lifted up her skirt and thrown it over it. She 
has taken it out of its bed in great haste and 
hurried away with it. Now I understand: 
these people are fugitives. 

^ * But they are mad, all the same, ' ' continued 
the palm. '' If they have not an angel to pro- 
tect them, they should rather have let their 
enemies do their worst than have taken refuge 
in the desert. I can imagine how it has all 
happened. The man is at work, the child 
sleeps in its cradle, the woman has gone to 
fetch water. When she has gone a few steps 
from the door she sees the enemy approaching. 
She rushes, in, seizes the child, calls to the hus- 
band that he shall follow her, and runs away. 
Since then they have continued their flight the 
whole day; they have assuredly not rested a 
single moment. Yes, so it has all happened; 
but I say all the same, if no angel protects 
them — 

72 Christmas in Legend and Story 

* * They are in such fear that they do not feel 
either fatigue or other sufferings, but I read 
thirst in their eyes. I think I should know the 
face of a thirsty man." 

And when the palm began to think about 
thirst a fit of trembling went through its high 
stem, and the innumerable fronds of its long 
leaves curled up as if held over a fire. 

' ^ If I were a man, ^ ' it said, ' ' I would never 
venture into the desert. He is truly brave 
who ventures here without having roots reach- 
ing down to the inexhaustible water-veins. 
There can be danger even for palms, even for 
such a palm as I. Could I advise them, I 
would beg them to return. Their enemies 
could never be as cruel to them as the desert. 
They think perhaps that it is easy to live in 
the desert. But I know that even I at times 
have had difficulty in keeping alive. I remem- 
ber once in my youth when a whirlwind threw 
a whole mountain of sand over me I was 
nearly choking. If I could die I should have 
died then." 

The palm continued to think aloud, as lonely 
old people do. 

*^ I hear a wonderful melodious murmur 

The Flight into Egypt. 
From Painting by Bouguereau. 

The Flight into Egypt 73 

passing through my crown,'' it said; ^' all the 
fronds of my leaves must be moving. I do not 
know why the sight of these poor strangers 
moves me so. But this sorrowful woman is so 
beautiful ! It reminds me of the most wonder- 
ful thing that ever happened to me." 

And whilst its leaves continued their melo- 
dious rustle the palm remembered how once, 
long, long ago, a glorious human being had 
visited the oasis. It was the Queen of Sheba, 
accompanied by the wise King Solomon. The 
beautiful Queen was on her way back to her 
own country; the King had accompanied her 
part of the way, and now they were about to 
part. *^ In memory of this moment," said the 
Queen, ^^ I now plant a date-kernel in the 
earth; and I ordain that from it shall grow 
a palm which shall live and grow until a King 
is born in Judaea greater than Solomon." 
And as she said this she placed the kernel in 
the ground, and her tears watered it. 

^* How can it be that I should just happen 
to think of this to-day? " said the palm. ** Can 
it be possible that this woman is so beautiful 
that she reminds me of the most beautiful of 
all queens, of her at whose bidding I have lived 

74 Christmas in Legend and Story 

and grown to this very day? I hear my leaves 
rustling stronger and stronger/' said the 
palm, *^ and it sounds sorrowful, like a death- 
song. It is as if they prophesied that some- 
one should soon pass away. It is well to know 
that it is not meant for me, inasmuch that I 
cannot die.'' 

The palm thought that the death-song in its 
leaves must be for the two lonely wanderers. 
They themselves surely thought that their last 
hour was drawing near. One could read it in 
their faces when they walked past one of the 
skeletons of the camels that lay by the road- 
side. One saw it from the glances with which 
they watched a couple of vultures flying past. 
It could not be otherwise — they must perish. 

They had no\7 discovered the palm in the 
oasis, and hastened thither to find water. But 
when they at last reached it they sank down in 
despair, for the well was dried up. The woman, 
exhausted, laid down the child, and sat down 
crying by the side of the well. The man threw 
himself down by her side ; he lay and beat the 
ground with his clenched hands. The palm 
heard them say to each other that they must 
die. It also understood from their conversa- 

The Flight into Egypt 75 

tion that King Herod had caused all children 
of two or three years of age to be killed from 
fear that the great expected King in Judaea had 
been born. 

*^ It rustles stronger and stronger in my 
leaves," said the palm. *^ These poor fugi- 
tives have soon come to their last moment.'' 

It also heard that they were afraid of the 
desert. The man said it would have been bet- 
ter to remain and fight the soldiers than to 
flee. He said that it would have been an easier 

'^ God will surely help us," said the woman. 

** We are all alone amongst serpents and 
beasts of prey," said the man. '^ We have no 
food and no water. How can God help us? " 

He tore his clothes in despair and pressed 
his face against the earth. He was hopeless, 
like a man with a mortal wound in his 

The woman sat upright, with her hands 
folded upon her knees. But the glances she 
cast over the desert spoke of unutterable 

The palm heard the sorrowful rustling in 
its leaves grow still stronger. The woman had 

76 Christmas in Legend and Story 

evidently heard it too, for she looked up to the 
crown of the tree, and in the same moment she 
involuntarily raised her arms. 

** Dates, dates! '' she cried. 

There was such a longing in her voice, that 
the old palm wished it had not been any higher 
than the gorse, and that its dates had been as 
easy to reach as the red berries of the haw- 
thorn. It knew that its crown was full of 
clusters of dates, but how could man reach to 
such a dazzling height? 

The man had already seen that, the dates 
being so high, it was impossible to reach them. 
He did not even lift his head. He told his 
wife that she must not wish for the impos- 

But the child, which had crawled about alone 
and was playing with sticks and straws, heard 
the mother's exclamation. The little one could 
probably not understand why his mother 
should not have everything she wished for. 
As soon as he heard the word *' dates," he 
began to look at the tree. He wondered and 
pondered how he should get the dates. There 
came almost wrinkles on his forehead under 
the fair locks. At last a smile passed over his 

The. Flight into Egypt 77 

face. Now he knew what he would do. He 
went to the palm, stroked it with his little 
hand, and said in his gentle, childish voice: 

'' Bend down, palm. Bend down, palm.'' 

But what was this, what could this be? The 
palm-leaves rustled, as if a hurricane rushed 
through them, and shudder upon shudder 
passed through the tall stem. And the palm 
felt that the little one was the stronger. It 
could not resist him. 

And with its high stem it bowed down before 
the child, as men bow down before princes. 
In a mighty arch it lowered itself towards 
earth, and at last bowed so low that its great 
crown of trembling leaves swept the sand of 
the desert. 

The child did not seem to be either fright- 
ened or surprised, but with a joyous exclama- 
tion it ran and plucked one cluster after an- 
other from the crown of the old palm. 

When the child had gathered enough, and 
the tree was still lying on the earth, he again 
went to it, stroked it, and said in his gentlest 
voice : 

** Arise, palm, arise." 

And the great tree raised itself silently and 

78 Christmas in Legend and Story 

obediently on its stem, whilst the leaves 
played like harps. 

* * Now I know for whom they play the death- 
song," the old palm said to itself, when it 
again stood erect. ^ ^ It is not for any of these 

But the man and woman knelt down on their 
knees and praised God. 

** Thou hast seen our fear and taken it from 
us. Thou art the Mighty One, that bends thje 
stem of the palm like a reed. Of whom should 
we be afraid when Thy strength protects 
us? " 

Next time a caravan passed through the 
desert, one of the travellers saw that the 
crown of the great palm had withered. 

'* How can that have happened? " said the 
traveller. ** Have we not heard that this palm 
should not die before it had seen a King 
greater than Solomon? " 

** Perhaps it has seen Him," answered an- 
other wanderer of the desert. 


A German Legend 

Nora Archibald Smith 

As I went through the tangled wood 

I heard the Aspen shiver, 
'* What dost thou ail, sweet Aspen, say, 

Why do thy leaflets quiver? ^' 

*^ 'Twas long ago/' the Aspen sighed — 

How long is past my knowing — 
^^ When Mary Mother rode adown 

This wood where I was growing. 
Blest Joseph journey 'd by her side, 

Upon his good staff resting, 
And in her arms the Heav'nly Babe, 

Dove of the World, was nesting. 
Fair was the mother, shining-fair, 

A lily sweetly blowing; 
The Babe was but a lily-bud. 

Like to his mother showing. 


•^ Legend and Story 
^ Christmas w ^^S 
^ ^ . Tby Master comes 

^ tence bent to adore Sita. 

^ ''^ Tof all the host 

I only, out of aU ^^^^^_ 

Of bird and tree a ^y ^,,d, 

I, haughty, ---'^^^l^,, power. 

Kor own my Master P ^^^^^^.^,,d, 
. Proud Aspen, q^otu ^.^^ 

^en emperors^ 

Wilt courtesy deny ^^^ ^^^t, 

Iteardhervoice; my 



Jewish Legend 
Elizabeth Stuabt Phelps 

I LIKE that old, kind legend 

Not found in Holy Writ, 
And wish that John or Matthew 

Had made Bible out of it. 

But though it is not Gospel, 

There is no law to hold 
The heart from growing better 

That hears the story told: — 

How the little Jewish children 

Upon a summer day, 
Went down across the meadows 

With the Child Christ to play. 

And in the gold-green valley, 

Where low the reed-grass lay, 


82 Christmas in Legend and Story 

They made them mock mud-sparrows 
Out of the meadow clay. 

So, when these all were fashioned, 
And ranged in rows about, 

** Now,'' said the little Jesus, 
'' We'll let the birds fly out/' 

Then all the happy children 
Did call, and coax, and cry — 

Each to his own mud-sparrow: 
'' Fly, as I bid you! Fly! '' 

But earthen were the sparrows, 
And earth they did remain. 

Though loud the Jewish children 
Cried out, and cried again. 

Except the one bird only 

The little Lord Christ made; 

The earth that owned Him Master^ 
— His earth heard and obeyed. 

Softly He leaned and whispered : 
'' Fly up to Heaven! Fly! " 

And swift, His little sparrow 
Went soaring to the sky, 

The. Little Mud-Sparrows 83 

And silent, all the children 

Stood, awestruck, looking on, 
Till, deep into the heavens. 

The bird of earth had gone. 

I like to think, for playmate 
We have the Lord Christ still. 

And that still above our weakness 
He works His mighty will, 

That all our little playthings 

Of earthen hopes and joys 
Shall be, by His commandment, 

Changed into heavenly toys. 

Our souls are like the sparrows 

Imprisoned in the clay. 
Bless Him who came to give them wings 

Upon a Christmas Day! 


Fiona Macleod 

I WILL tell this Legend as simply but also 
with what beauty I can, because the words of 
the old Highland woman, who told it to me, . . . 
though simple were beautiful with ancient 

We must go back near twenty hundred 
years. ... It was in the last month of the 
last year of the seven years ' silence and peace : 
the seventh year in the mortal life of Jesus the 
Christ. It was on the twenty-fifth day of that 
month, the day of His holy birth. 

It was a still day. The little white flowers 
that were called Breaths of Hope and that we 
now call Stars of Bethlehem were so hushed in 
quiet that the shadows of moths lay on them 
like the dark motionless violet in the hearts of 
pansies. In the long swards of tender grass 
the multitude of the daisies were white as milk 


Children of Wind and the Clan of Peace 85 

faintly stained with flusht dews fallen from 
roses. On the meadows of white poppies were 
long shadows blue as the bine lagoons of the 
sky among drifting snow-white moors of cloud. 
Three white aspens on the pastures were in a 
still sleep: their tremulous leaves made no 
rustle, though there was a soundless wavering 
fall of little dusky shadows, as in the dark 
water of a pool where birches lean in the yellow 
hour of the frostfire. Upon the pastures were 
ewes and lambs sleeping, and yearling kids 
opened and closed their onyx eyes among the 
garths of white clover. 

It was the Sabbath, and Jesus walked alone. 
When He came to a little rise in the grass He 
turned and looked back at the house where 
His parents dwelled. Joseph sat on a bench, 
with bent shoulders, and was dreaming with 
fixt gaze into the west, as seamen stare across 
the interminable wave at the pale green hori- 
zons that are like the grassy shores of home. 
Mary was standing, dressed in long white rai- 
ment, white as a lily, with her right hand 
shading her eyes as she looked to the east, 
dreaming her dream. 

The young Christ sighed, but with the love 


86 Christmas in Legend and Story 

of all love in His heart. '^ So shall it be till 
the day of days,'' He said aloud; *^ even so 
shall the hearts of men dwell among shadows 
and glories, in the West of passing things: 
even so shall that which is immortal turn to 
the East and watch for the coming of Joy 
through the Gates of LifeV 

At the sound of His voice He heard a sudden 
noise as of many birds, and turned and looked 
beyond the low upland where He stood. A 
pool of pure water lay in the hollow, fed by 
a ceaseless wellspring, and round it and over 
it circled birds whose breasts were grey as 
pearl and whose necks shone purple and grass- 
green and rose. The noise was of their wings, 
for though the birds were beautiful they were 
voiceless and dumb as flowers. 

At the edge of the pool stood two figures, 
whom He knew to be of the angelic world 
because of their beauty, but who had on them 
the illusion of mortality so that the child did 
not know them. But He saw that one was 
beautiful as Night, and one beautiful as Morn- 

He drew near. 

** I have lived seven years," He said, *^ and 

Children of Wind and the Clan of Peace 87 

I wish to send peace to the far ends of the 
world. ' ' 

^* Tell your secret to the birds,'' said one. 

** Tell your secret to the birds," said the 

So Jesus called to the birds. 

^' Come,'' He cried; and they came. 

Seven came flying from the left, from the 
side of the angel beautiful as Night. Seven 
came flying from the right, from the side of the 
angel beautiful as Morning. 

To the first He said : ' ' Look into my heart. ' ' 

But they wheeled about Him, and with new- 
found voices mocked, crying, *' How could we 
see into your heart that is hidden "... and 
mocked and derided, crying, '^ What is Peace! 
. . . Leave us alone! Leave us alone! " 

So Christ said to them: 

*^ I know you for the birds of Ahriman, who 
is not beautiful but is Evil. Henceforth ye 
shall be black as night, and be children of the 
winds. ' ' 

To the seven other birds which circled about 
Him, voiceless, and brushing their wings 
against His arms. He cried: 

** Look into my heart." 

88 Christmas in Legend and Story 

And they swerved and hung before Him in 
a maze of wings, and looked into His pure 
heart: and, as they looked, a soft murmurous 
sound came from them, drowsy-sweet, full of 
peace : and as they hung there like a breath in 
frost they became white as snow. 

** Ye are the Doves of the Spirit," said 
Christ, *^ and to you I will commit that which 
ye have seen. Henceforth shall your plumage 
be white and your voices be the voices of 

The young Christ turned, for He heard 
Mary calling to the sheep and goats, and knew 
that dayset was come and that in the valleys 
the gloaming was already rising like smoke 
from the urns of the twilight. When He 
looked back He saw by the pool neither the 
Son of Joy nor the Son of Sorrow, but seven 
white doves were in the cedar beyond the pool, 
cooing in low ecstasy of peace and awaiting 
through sleep and dreams the rose-red path- 
ways of the dawn. Down the long grey reaches 
of the ebbing day He saw seven birds rising 
and falling on the wind, black as black water 
in caves, black as the darkness of night in old 
pathless woods. 

The Christ-Child. 
From Painting by Winterstein. 

Children of Wind and the Clan of Peace 89 

And that is how the first doves became 
white, and how the first crows became black 
and were called by a name that means the clan 
of darkness, the children of the wind. 


AuTHOE Unknown 

Cold was the day, when in a garden bare, 
Walked the Child Jesus, wrapt in holy 
thought ; 
His brow seemed clouded with a weight of 
care ; 
Calmness and rest from worldly things he 

Soon was his presence missed within his home ; 

His mother gently marked his every way; 
Forth then she came to seek where he did roam. 

Full of sweet words his trouble to allay. 

Through chilling snow she toiled to reach his 
Forcing her way mid branches brown and 
Hastening that she his sorrows might divide. 
Share all his woe, or calm his gloomy fear. 


The. Child Jesus in the Garden 91 

Sweet was her face, as o ^er his head she bent, 
Longing to melt his look of saddest grief. 

With lifted eyes, his ear to her he lent; 
Her kindly solace brought his soul reliefo 

Then did he smile — a smile of love so deep. 

Winter himself grew warm beneath its glow ; 
From drooping branches scented blossoms 
Up springs the grass; the sealed fountains 

Summer and spring did with each other vie, 
Offering to Him the fragrance of their store ; 

Chanting sweet notes, the birds around him fly. 
Wondering why earth had checkered so her 

( ( 


Adapted from Traditional Sources 

Three hawthornes also that groweth in Werall 
Do burge and here grene leaves at Christmas 
As fresshe as other in May." 

It was Christmas day in the year 63. The 
autumn colors of red and gold had long since 
faded from the hills, and the trees which cov- 
ered the island valley of Glastonbury, the 
Avalon or Apple-tree isle of the early Britons, 
were bare and leafless. The spreading, glass- 
like waters encircling it round about gleamed 
faintly in the pale afternoon light of the win- 
ter's day. The light fell also on the silver 
stems of the willows and on the tall flags and 
bending reeds and osiers which bordered the 
marsh island. Westward the long ranges of 
hills running seaward were purple in the dis- 
tance and their tops were partly hidden by the 
misty white clouds which rested lightly upon 


The Mystic Thorn 93 

them. To the south rose sharply and abruptly 
a high, pointed hill, the tor of Glastonbury. 

It was nearing the sunset hour when a little 
band of men in pilgrim garb, approaching from 
the west and climbing the long, hilly ridge, 
came within sight of this ^* isle of rest." 
Twelve pilgrims there were in all, in dress and 
appearance very unlike the fair-haired Britons 
who at that time dwelt in the land. One, he 
who led the way, was an old man. His hair 
was white and his long, white beard fell upon 
his breast, but he was tall and erect and bore 
no other signs of age. In his hand he carried 
a stout hawthorn staff. 

The men were climbing slowly up the hill, 
for they were all weary with long travelling. 
And here at the summit of the ridge they 
stopped to look out over the wooded hills, the 
wide-spreading waters and the grassy island 
with its leafless thickets of oak and alder. 
Sitting down to rest, they spoke one to another 
of their long journeying from the far-distant 
land of Palestine and of their hope that here 
their pilgrimage might have end. 

Those who were with him called their leader 
Joseph of Arimathea. He it was who had been 

94 Christmas in Legend and Story 

known among the Jews many years before as 
a counsellor, ** a good man, and a just,'' and 
who, when the Saviour was crucified on Cal- 
vary, had given his sepulchre to receive the 
body of the Lord. 

From this tomb upon the third day came the 
risen Saviour; but the people, thinking that 
Joseph had stolen away the body, seized and 
imprisoned him in a chamber where there was 
no window. They fastened the door and put 
a seal upon the lock and placed men before the 
door to guard it. Then the priests and the Le- 
vites contrived to what death they should put 
him; but when they sent for Joseph to be 
brought forth he could not be found, though 
the seal was still upon the lock and the guard 
before the door. 

The disciples of Joseph as they gathered 
about their fire of an evening often told how, 
at night, as he prayed, the prison chamber had 
been filled with a light brighter than that of 
the sun, and Jesus himself had appeared to 
him and had led him forth unharmed to his 
own house in Arimathea. 

And sometimes they told how, again impris- 
oned, he had been fed from the Holy Cup from 

The Mystic Thorn 95 

which the Saviour had drunk at the ^' last sad 
supper with his own '' and in which Joseph 
had caught the blood of his Master when he 
was on the cross, and how he had been blest 
with such heavenly visions that the years 
passed and seemed to him as naught. 

Now after a certain time he had been re- 
leased from prison ; but there were people who 
still doubted him and so with his friends, 
Lazarus and Mary Magdalene and Philip and 
others, he had been driven away from Jeru- 
salem. The small vessel, without oars, rud- 
der or sail, in which they had been cast adrift 
on the Mediterranean, had come at last in 
safety to the coast of Gaul. And for many 
years since then had Joseph wandered through 
the land carrying ever with him two precious 
relics, the Holy Grail and '' that same spear 
wherewith the Roman pierced the side of 
Christ.'' Now at last with a chosen band of 
disciples he had reached the little-known island 
of the Britons. 

Landing from their little boat in the early 
morn on this unknown coast, they had knelt 
upon the shore while Joseph ** gave blessing 
to the God of heaven in a lowly chanted 

96 Christmas in Legend and Story 

prayer.'* Then, *^ over the brow of the sea- 
ward hill *' they had passed, led by an invis- 
ible hand and singing as they went. All day 
through dark forests and over reedy swamps 
they had made their way and now at nightfall, 
tired and wayworn, they rested on the ridgy 
hill which has ever since been known by the 
name of Wearyall. 

During the long day's march they had seen 
but few of the people of the land and these 
had held aloof. 

Now, suddenly, the silence was broken by 
loud cries and shouts, and groups of the native 
Britons, wild and uncouth in appearance, their 
half-naked bodies stained blue with woad, 
were seen coming from different directions up 
the hill. They were armed with spears, hatch- 
ets of bronze, and other rude weapons of olden 
warfare and, as they came rapidly nearer, 
their threatening aspect and menacing cries 
startled the pilgrim band. Rising hastily, as 
though they would flee, the men looked in ter- 
ror, one toward another. Joseph alone 
showed no trace of fear and, obedient to a sign 
from him, they all knelt in prayer upon the 

The Mystic Thorn 97 

Then, thrusting his thorny staff into the 

ground beside him and raising both hands 

toward heaven, Joseph claimed possession of 

this new land in the name of his Master, 


** * This staff hath borne me long and well,' 
Then spake that saint divine, 
* Over mountain and over plain, 
On quest of the Promise-sign; 
For aye let it stand in this western land, 
And God do no more to me 
If there ring not out from this realm about, 
Tihi gloria f Domine.' '' 

His voice ceased and the men rose from their 
knees, looking expectantly for the heavenly 
sign, but ready, if need be, to meet with cour- 
age the threatened attack. 

But stillness had again settled over the hill. 
Only a few rods distant the Britons had 
stopped and grouped closely together were 
gazing in awestruck silence upon the dry and 
withered staff, which had so often aided 
Joseph in his wanderings from the Holy 
Land. Following their gaze, Joseph and his 
companions turned toward it and even as they 
did so, behold! A miracle! The staff took 
root and grew and, as they watched, they saw 

98 Christmas in Legend and Story 

it put forth branches and green leaves, fair 
buds and milk-white blossoms which filled the 
air with their sweet .odor. 

For a moment, awed and amazed, all stood 
silent. Wondrously had Joseph's prayer been 
answered! This was indeed the heavenly 
token which had been foretold! Then with 
tears of joy all cried out as with one voice, 
** Our God is with us! Jesus is with us! '' 

Marvelling much at the strange things they 
had just seen and heard, the Britons dropped 
their weapons and fled in haste from the hill. 

Then did Joseph and his disciples go down 
across the marsh into the valley and there 
they rested undisturbed. 

Word of the miracle which had thus been 
wrought on Wearyall Hill was brought soon 
to Arviragus, the heathen king of the time, 
and he welcomed gladly the holy men and 
gave them the beautiful vale of Avalon 
whereon to live. There they built ** a little 
lonely church," with roof of rushes and walls 
of woven twigs and ** wattles from the 
marsh,'' the first Christian church which had 
ever been built in Britain. 

There they dwelt for many years, serving 










The Mystic Thorn 99 

God, fasting and praying, and there Joseph 
taught the half-barbarous Britons, who gath- 
ered to listen to him, the faith of Christ. 

Time passed and the little, low, wattled 
church became a great and beautiful abbey. 
Many pilgrims there were who came to wor- 
ship at the shrine of St. Joseph; to drink 
from the holy well which sprang from the foot 
of Chalice Hill where the Holy Cup lay buried ; 
and to watch the budding of the mystic thorn, 
which, year after year, when the snows of 
Christmas covered the hills, put forth its holy 
blossoms, "' a symbol of God's promise, care 
and love.'' 

Now long, long afterward there came a time 
when there was war in the land and one day 
a rough soldier who recked not of its heavenly 
origin cut down the sacred tree. Only a flat 
stone now marks the place where it once stood 
and where Joseph's staff burst into bloom. 
But there were other trees which had been 
grown from slips of the miraculous thorn and 
these, '^ mindful of our Lord " still keep the 
sacred birthday and blossom each year on 
Christmas Day. 



Edith Matilda Thomas 

God shield ye, comrades of the road! 

And while our way we hold, 
List while I tell how it first befell 

In the wondrous days of old. 

From off the sea, the pilgrims came, 
With sea-toil wracked and worn; 

The air blew keen, and the frost was sheen. 
Upon that wintry morn. 

Through Glastonbury street went they; 

And ever on, and on. 
Till they pass the well of the fairy spell, 

And the oak of Avalon. 

They hear the rustling leaves and few, 
That linger on the bough; 


The Blooming of the White Thorn 101 

But still they fare through the bitter air, 
And climb a hill-slope now. 

On Weary- All-Hill their feet they stay 

(Full well that Hill ye know) ; 
There may they rest, by toil oppressed, 

While round them drops the snow. 

And one — far gone in age was he — 
As snow, his locks were white — 

The staff of thorn which he had borne. 
Did plant upon that height. 

A thorn-stick dry, that pilgrim staff, 

He set it in the ground: 
And, swift as sight, with blossoms white 

The branching staff was crowned ! 

Each year since then (if sooth men say) 

Upon this Blessed Morn, 
Who climbs that Hill, may see at will 

The flower upon the thorn! 

However the wind may drive the sleet. 

That thorn will blooming be ; 
And some have seen a fair Child lean 

From out that blossomed tree! 

102 Christmas in Legend and Story 

One moment only — then, apace, 
Both flower and leaf are shorn; 

And, gaunt and chill, on Weary- All-Hill, 
There stands an ancient thorn! 

God shield ye, comrades of the road — 

With grace your spirits fill, 
That ye may see the White-thorn tree 

A-bloom on Weary- All-Hill ! 


Adapted from the Golden Legend 

There was a mighty man of old who dwelt 
in the land of Canaan. Large was he and tall 
of stature and stronger than any man whom 
the world had ever seen. Therefore was he 
called Offero, or, ** The Bearer.^' Now he 
served the king of Canaan, but he was proud 
of his great strength and upon a time it came 
in his mind that he would seek the greatest 
king who then reigned and him only would he 
serve and ebey. 

So he travelled from one country to an- 
other until at length he came to one where 
ruled a powerful king whose fame was great 
in all the land. 

^* Thou art the conqueror of nations? '' 
asked Offero. 

*' I am," replied the king. 

*' Then take me into your service, for I will 

serve none but the mightiest of earth." 


104 Christmas in Legend and Story 

'* That then am I/' returned the king, ** for 
truly I fear none.*' 

So the king received Offero into his service 
and made him to dwell in his court. 

But once at eventide a minstrel sang before 
the king a merry song in which he named oft 
the evil one. And every time that the king 
heard the name of Satan he grew pale and 
hastily made the sign of the cross upon his 
forehead. Offero marvelled thereat and de- 
manded of the king the meaning of the sign 
and wherefore he thus crossed himself. And 
because the king would not tell him Offero 
said, ** If thou tell me not, I shall no longer 
dwell with thee." Then the king answered, 
saying, ^' Always when I hear Satan named, 
I fear that he may have power over me and 
therefore I make this sign that he harm me 

'' Who is Satan? '' asked Offero. 

** He is a wicked monarch, '* replied the 
king, * * wicked but powerful. * ' 

^' More powerful than thou art? '' 

** Aye, verily.'* 

** And fearest thou that he hurt thee! '' 

'' That do I, and so do all." 

Legend of St. Christopher 106 

** Then," cried Offero, ** is lie more miglity 
and greater than thou art. I will go seek him. 
Henceforth he shall be my master for I would 
fain serve the mightiest and the greatest lord 
of all the world.'' 

So Offero departed from the king and 
sought Satan. Everywhere he met people who 
had given themselves over to his rule and at 
last one day as he was crossing a wide desert 
he saw a great company of knights approach- 
ing. One of them, mounted upon a great black 
horse, came to him and demanded whither he 
went, and Offero made answer, ** I seek 
Satan, for he is mighty, and I would fain serve 

Then returned the knight, ** I am he whom 
thou seekest." 

When Offero heard these words he was right 
glad and took Satan to be his lord and master. 

This king was indeed powerful and a long 
time did Offero serve him, but it chanced one 
day as they were journeying together they 
came to a place where four roads met and in 
the midst of the space stood a little cross. As 
soon as Satan saw the cross he was afraid and 
turned quickly aside and fled toward the desert. 

106 Christmas in Legend and Story 

Offero followed him marvelling much at the 
sight. And after, when they had come back to 
the highway they had left, he inquired of 
Satan why he was thus troubled and had gone 
so far out of his way to avoid the cross. But 
Satan answered him not a word. 

Then Offero said to him, '' If thou wilt not 
tell me, I shall depart from thee straightway 
and shall serve thee no more." 

*^ Know then,'' said Satan, *^ there was a 
man called Christ who suffered on the cross 
and whenever I see his sign I am sore afraid 
and flee from it, lest he destroy me." 

** If then thou art afraid of his sign," 
cried Offero, ** he is greater and more mighty 
than thou, and I see well that I have la- 
bored in vain, for I have not found the great- 
est lord of the world. I will serve thee no 
longer. Go thy way alone, for I will go to seek 

And when he had long sought and demanded 
where he should find Him, he came at length 
into a great desert where dwelt a hermit, a 
servant of the Christ. The hermit told him 
of the Master whom he was seeking and said 
to him, ^* This king whom thou dost wish to 

Legend of St, Christopher 107 

serve is not an earthly ruler and he requir- 
eth that thou oft fast and make many pray- 

But Offero understood not the meaning of 
worship and prayer and he answered, *^ Re- 
quire of me some other thing and I shall do it, 
hut I know naught of this which thou requir- 

Then the hermit said to him, *^ Knowest 
thou the river, a day's journey from here, 
where there is neither ford nor bridge and 
many perish and are lost? Thou art large 
and strong. Therefore go thou and dwell by 
this river and bear over all who desire to cross 
its waters. That is a service which will be 
well pleasing to the Christ whom thou desirest 
to serve, and sometime, if I mistake not, he 
whom thou seekest will come to thee.'^ 

Offero was right joyful at these words and 
answered, ** This service may I well do." 

So he hastened to the river and upon its 
banks he built himself a little hut of reeds. He 
bare a great pole in his hand to sustain him in. 
the water and many weary wayfarers did he 
help to cross the turbulent stream. So he lived 
a long time, bearing over all manner of people 

108 Christmas in Legend and Story 

without ceasing, and still lie saw nothing of the 

Now it happened one night that a storm was 
raging and the river was very high. Tired 
with his labors, Offero had just flung himself 
down on his rude bed to sleep when he heard 
the voice of a child which called him and said, 
** Oifero, Offero, come out and bear me over.'' 

Offero arose and went out from his cabin, 
but in the darkness he could see no one. And 
when he was again in the house, he heard the 
same voice and he ran out again and found 
no one. A third time he heard the call and 
going out once more into the storm, there upon 
the river bank he found a fair young child who 
besought him in pleading tones, ^ * Wilt thou 
not carry me over the river this night, Of- 
fero? " 

The strong man gently lifted the child on his 
shoulders, took his staff and stepped into the 
stream. And the water of the river arose and 
swelled more and more and the child was 
heavy as lead. And alway as he went farther, 
higher and higher swelled the waters and the 
child more and more waxed heavy, insomuch 
that he feared that they would both be 

Legend of St, Christopher 109 

drowned. Already his strength was nearly- 
gone, but he thought of his Master whom he 
had not yet seen, and staying his footsteps 
with his palm staff struggled with all his 
might to reach the opposite shore. As at last 
he climbed the steep bank, suddenly the storm 
ceased and the waters calmed. 

He set the child down upon the shore, say- 
ing, ** Child, thou hast put me in great peril. 
Had I carried the whole world on my shoul- 
ders, the weight had not been greater. I 
might bear no greater burden.^' 

** Offero,'' answered the child, ^' Marvel 
not, but rejoice; for thou hast borne not only 
all the world upon thee, but thou hast borne 
him that created and made ail the world upon 
thy shoulders. I am Christ the king whom 
thou servest in this work. And for a token, 
that thou mayst know what I say to be the 
truth, set thy staff in the earth by thy house 
and thou shalt see in the morning that it shall 
bear flowers and fruit.'' With these words the 
child vanished from Offerors sight. 

But Offero did even as he was bidden and 
set his staff in the earth and when he arose 
on the morrow, he found it like a palm-tree 

110 Christmas in Legend and Story 

bearing flowers and leaves and clusters of 
dates. Then he knew that it was indeed 
Christ whom he had borne through the waters 
and he rejoiced that he had found his Master. 
From that day he served Christ faithfully and 
was no more called Offero, but Christopher, 
the Christ bearer. 


Fiona Macleud 

Behind the wattle-woven house 
Nial the Mighty gently crept 
From out a screen of ashtree boughs 
To where a captive white-robe slept. 

Lightly he moved, as though ashamed ; 
To right and left he glanced his fears. 
Nial the Mighty was he named 
Though but an untried youth in years — 

But tall he was, as tall as he. 
White Dermid of the magic sword, 
Or Torcall of the Hebrid Sea 
Or great Cuhoolin of the Ford; 

Strong as the strongest, too, he was: 

As Balor of the Evil Eye; 

As Fionn who kept the Ulster Pass 

From dawn till blood-flusht sunset sky. 


112 Christmas in Legend and Story 

Much had he pondered all that day 
The mystery of the men who died 
On crosses raised along the way, 
And perished singing side by side. 

Modred the chief had sailed the Moyle, 
Had reached lona's guardless-shore, 
Had seized the monks when at their toil 
And carried northward, bound, a score. 

Some he had thrust into the deep, 

To see if magic fins would rise : 

Some from high rocks he forced to leap. 

To see wings fall from out the skies : 

Some he had pinned upon tall spears. 
Some tossed on shields with brazen clang. 
To see if through their blood and tears 
Their god would hear the hymns they sang. 

But when his oarsmen flung their oars. 
And laughed to see across the foam 
The glimmer of the highland shores 
And smoke-wreaths of the hidden home, 

Modred was weary of his sport. 
All day he brooded as he strode 

St. Christopher of the Gael 113 

Betwixt the reef-encircled port 

And the oak-grove of the Sacred Road. 

At night he bade his warriors raise 
Seven crosses where the foamswept strand 
Lay still and white beyond the blaze 
Of the hundred camp-fires of the land. 

The women milked the late-come kye, 
The children raced in laughing glee; 
Like sheep from out the fold of the sky 
Stars leapt and stared at earth and sea. 

At times a wild and plaintive air 

Made delicate music far away: 

A hill-fox barked before its lair : 

The white owl hawked its shadowy prey. 

But at the rising of the moon 
The druids came from grove and glen, 
And to the chanting of a rune 
Crucified St. Columba's men. 

They died in silence side by side, 
But first they sang the evening hymn: 
By midnight all but one had died, 
At dawn he too was grey and grim. 

114 Christmas in Legend and Story 

One monk alone had Modred kept, 

A youth with hair of golden-red, 

Who never once had sighed or wept. 

Not once had bowed his proud young head. 

Broken he lay, and bound with thongs. 
Thus had he seen his brothers toss 
Like crows transfixed upon great prongs. 
Till death crept up each silent cross. 

Night grew to dawn, to scarlet morn; 
Day waned to firelit, starlit night: 
But still with eyes of passionate scorn 
He dared the worst of Modred 's might. 

When from the wattle-woven house 
Nial the Mighty softly stepped. 
And peered beneath the ashtree boughs 
To where he thought the white-robe slept, 

He heard the monk's words rise in prayer. 
He heard a hymn's ascending breath — 
'' Christy Son of God, to Thee I fare 
This night upon the wings of death/' 

Nial the Mighty crossed the space. 
He waited till the monk had ceased; 

St Christopher of the Gael 115 

Then, leaning o'er the foam-white face, 
He stared upon the dauntless priest. 

* ^ Speak low, ' * he said, ^ ^ and tell me this : 
Who is the king you hold so great? — 
Your eyes are dauntless flames of bliss 
Though Modred taunts you with his hate : — 

*^ This god or king, is He more strong 
Than Modred is? And does He sleep 
That thus your death-in-life is long, 
And bonds your aching body keep? '' 

The monk's eyes stared in NiaPs eyes: 
*^ Young giant with a child's white heart, 
I see a cross take shape and rise. 
And thou upon it nailed art! " 

Nial looked back: no cross he saw 
Looming from out the dreadful night: 
Yet all his soul was filled with awe, 
A thundercloud with heart of light. 

** Tell me thy name," he said, '^ and why 
Thou waitest thus the druid knife. 
And carest not to live or die? 
Monk, hast thou little care of life? " 

116 Christmas in Legend and Story 

'' Great care of that I have/^ he said, 
And looked at Nial with eyes of fire: 
'' My life begins when I am dead, 
There only is my heart's desire.'' 

Nial the Mighty sighed. '' Thy words 
Are as the idle froth of foam, 
Or clashing of triumphant swords 
When Modred brings the foray home. 

** My name is Nial: Nial the Strong: 
A lad in years, but as you see 
More great than heroes of old song 
Or any lordly men that be. 

** To Modred have I come from far. 
O'er many a hill and strath and stream. 
To be a mighty sword in war. 
And this because I dreamed a dream: 

** My dream was that my strength so great 
Should serve the greatest king there is: 
Modred the Pict thus all men rate, 
And so I sought this far-off Liss. 

** But if there be a greater yet, 
A king or god whom he doth fear, 

St. Christopher of the Gael 117 

My service he shall no more get, 

My strength shall rust no longer here." 

The monk's face gladdened. ** Go, now, go; 
To Modred go: he sitteth dumb. 
And broods on what he fain would know : 
And say, ^ King, the Cross is come! ' 

** Then shall the king arise in wrath, 
And bid you go from out his sight. 
For if he meet you on his path 
He 41 leave you stark and still and white. 

*^ Thus shall he show, great king and all. 
He fears the glorious Cross of Christ, 
And dreads to hear slain voices call 
For vengeance on the sacrificed. 

** But, Nial, come not here again: 
Long before dawn my soul shall be 
Beyond the reach of any pain 
That Modred dreams to prove on me. 

** Go forth thyself at dawn, and say 
' This is Christ's holy natal morn. 
My king is He from forth this day 
When He to save mankind was born ': 

118 Christmas in Legend and Story 

"' Go forth and seek a lonely place 
Where a great river fills the wild; 
There bide, and let thy strength be grace, 
And wait the Coming of a Child. 

^ * A wondrous thing shall then befall : 
And when thou seek'st if it be true, 
Green leaves along thy staff shall crawl, 
With flowers of every lovely hue.'' 

The monk's face whitened, like sea-foam: 
Seaward he stared, and sighed * ^ I go — 
Farewell — my Lord Christ calls me home! *' 
Nial stooped and saw death's final throe. 

An hour before the dawn he rose 
And sought out Modred, brooding, dumb; 
^* King," he said, " my bond I close. 
King Christ I seek: the Cross is come! '' 

Swift as a stag's leap from a height 
King Modred drew his dreadful sword: 
Then as a snow-wraith, silent, white, 
He stared and passed without a word. 

Before the flush of dawn was red 
A druid came to Nial the Great: 

St. Christopher of the Gael 119 

** The doom of death hath Modred said, 
Yet fears this Christ's mysterious hate: 

** So get you hence, you giant-thewed man: 
Go your own way : come not again : 
No more are you of Modred 's clan: 
Go now, forthwith, lest you be slain." 

Nial went forth with gladsome face ; 
No more of Modred 's clan he was: 
** Now, now,'' he cried, '' Christ's trail I'll 

And nowhere turn, and nowhere pause." 

He laughed to think how Modred feared 
The wrath of Christ, the monk's white king: 
^* A greater than Modred hath appeared. 
To Him my sword and strength I bring." 

All day, all night, he walked afar : 
He saw the moon rise white and still: 
The evening and the morning star: 
The sunrise burn upon the hill. 

He heard the moaning of the seas. 
The vast sigh of the sunswept plain. 

120 Christmas in Legend and Story 

The myriad surge of forest-trees; 
Saw dusk and night return again. 

At falling of the dusk he stood 
Upon a wild and desert land: 
Dark fruit he gathered for his food, 
Drank water from his hollowed hand, 

Cut from an ash a mighty bough 

And trimmed and shaped it to the half: 

^' Safe in the desert am I now, 

With sword,'' he said, '' and with this staff." 

The stars came out : Arcturus hung 

His ice-blue fire far down the sky : 

The Great Bear through the darkness swung: 

The Seven Watchers rose on high. 

A great moon flooded all the west. 
Silence came out of earth and sea 
And lay upon the husht world's breast, 
And breathed mysteriously. 

Three hours Nial walked, three hours and 

more : 
Then halted when beyond the plain 

St Christopher of the Gael 121 

He stood upon that river's shore 
The dying monk had bid him gain. 

A little house he saw: clay- wrought, 
Of wattle woven through and through: 
Then, all his weariness forgot, 
The joy of drowning-sleep he knew. 

Three hours he slept, and then he heard 
A voice — and yet a voice so low 
It might have been a dreaming bird 
Safe-nested by the rushing flow. 

Almost he slept once more: then. Hush! 
Once more he heard above the noise 
And tempest of the river's rush 
The thin faint words of a child's voice. 

" Good Sir, awake from sleep and dream, 
Good Sir, come out and carry me 
Across this dark and raging stream 
Till safe on the other side I be." 

Great Nial shivered on his bed: 

'* No human creature calls this night, 

It is a wild fetch of the dead," 

He thought, and shrunk, and shook with fright. 

122 Christmas in Legend and Story 

Once more he heard that infant-cry: 
'' Gome out, Good Sir, or else I drown — 
Gome out. Good Sir, or else I die 
And you, too, lose a golden crown/' 

** A golden crown '' — so Nial thought — 
* * No — no — not thus shall I be ta 'en ! 
Keep, ghost-of-the-night, your crown gold- 
wrought — 
Of sleep and peace I am full fain! " 

Once more the windy dark was filled 
With lonely cry, with sobbing plaint: 
NiaPs heart grew sore, its fear was stilled, 
King Christ, he knew, would scorn him faint. 

*^ Up, up thou coward, thou sluggard, thou/' 
He cried, and sprang from off his bed — 
*^ No crown thou seekest for thy brow, 
But help for one in pain and dread! " 

Out in the wide and lonely dark 
No fetch he saw, no shape, no child : 
Almost he turned again — but harhl 
A song rose o 'er the waters wild : 

St Christopher of the Gael 123 

A king am I 
The' a little Child, 
Son of God am I, 
Meek and mild, 

Because God hath said 
Let my cup he full 
Of wine and bread. 

Come to me 

Shaken heart, 

Shaken heart! 

I will not flee. 

My heart 

Is thy heart 

shaken heart! 

Stoop to my Cup, 


Drink of the wine: 

The wine and the bread, 

Saith God, 

Are mine — 

My Flesh and my Blood! 

Throw thy sword in the flood: 
Come, shaken heart: 

124 Christmas in Legend and Story 

Fearful thou art! 

Have no more fear — 

Lo, I am here, 

The little One, 

The Son, 

Thy Lord and thy King. 

It is I who sing: 

Christ, your King, . . . 

Be not afraid: 

Look, I am Light, 

A great star 

Seen from afar 

In the darkness of night: 

I am Light, 

Be not afraid ... 

Wade, wade 

Into the deep flood! 

Think of the Bread, 

The Wine and the Bread 

That are my Flesh and Blood, 

Cross, cross the Flood, 

Sure is the goal . . . 

Be not afraid 


Be not afraid! 

St Christopher of the Gael 125 

NiaPs heart was filled with joy and pain: 
* * This is my king, my king indeed : 
To think that drowned in sleep I've lain 
When Christ the Child-God crieth in need! " 

Swift from his wattled hut he strode, 
Stumbling among the grass and bent, 
And, seeking where the river flowed. 
Far o^er the dark flood peered and leant: 

Then suddenly beside him saw 
A little Child all clad in white: 
He bowed his head in love and awe, 
Then lifted high his burthen light. 

High on his shoulders sat the Child, 
While with strong limbs he fared among 
The rushing waters black and wild 
And where the fiercest currents swung. 

The waters rose more high, more high. 
Higher and higher every yard . . . 
Nial stumbled on with sob and sigh, 
Christ heard him panting sore and hard. 

*' Child," Nial cried, ^* forbear, forbear I 
Hark you not how these waters whirled ! 

126 Christmas in Legend and Story 

The weight of all the earth I bear, 
The weary weight of all the world! " 

'' Christopher! ^' . . . low above the noise, 

The rush, the darkness, Nial heard 

The far-off music of a Voice 

That said all things in saying one word — 

'^ Christopher . . . this thy name shall he! 
Christ-hearer is thy name, even so 
Because of service done to me 
Heavy with weight of the world's woe J* 

With breaking sobs, with panting breath 
Christopher grasped a bent-held dune, 
Then with flung staff and as in death 
Forward he fell in a heavy swoon. 

All night he lay in silence there. 
But safe from reach of surging tide: 
White angels had him in their care, 
Christ healed and watched him side by side. 

When all the silver wings of dawn 
Had waved above the rose-flusht east, 
Christopher woke . . . his dream was gone. 
The angelic songs had ceased. 

St Christopher of the Gael 127 

Was it a dream in very deed, 
He wondered, broken, trembling, dazed! 
His staff he lifted from the mead 
And as an .upright sapling raised. 

Lo, it was as the monk had said — 
If he would prove the vision true, 
His staff would blossom to its head 
With flowers of every lovely hue. 

Christopher bowed: before his eyes 
Christ's love fulfilled the holy hour. . . . 
A south-wind blew, green leaves did rise 
And the staff bloomed a myriad flower ! 

Christopher bowed in holy prayer. 
While Christ's love fell like healing dew: 
God's father-hand was on him there: 
The peace of perfect peace he knew. 


A Christmas on lona, Long, Long Ago 

Fiona Macleod 

One eve, when St. Columba strode 
In solemn mood along the shore, 
He met an angel on the road 
Who but a poor man's semblance bore. 

He wondered much, the holy saint. 
What stranger sought the lonely isle, 
But seeing him weary and wan and faint 
St. Colum hailed him with a smile. 

** Remote our lone lona lies 
Here in the grey and windswept sea. 
And few are they whom my old eyes 
Behold as pilgrims bowing the knee. . . . 


But welcome . . . welcome . . . stranger- 
And come with me and you shall find 


The Cross of the Dumb 129 

A warm and deer-skinn'd cell for rest 
And at our board a welcome kind. . . . 

' ' Yet tell me ere the dune we cross 
How came you to this lonely land? 
No curraghs in the tideway toss 
And none is beached upon the strand! " 

The weary pilgrim raised his head 

And looked and smiled and said, '' From far, 

My wandering feet have here been led 

By the glory of a shining star. ..." 

St. Colum gravely bowed, and said, 
^ ' Enough, my friend, I ask no more ; 
Doubtless some silence-vow was laid 
Upon thee, ere thou sought 'st this shore: 

" Now, come: and doff this raiment sad 
And those rough sandals from thy feet: 
The holy brethren will be glad 
To haven thee in our retreat." 

Together past the praying cells 
And past the wattle-woven dome 
Whence rang the tremulous vesper bells 
St. Colum brought the stranger home. 

130 Christmas in Legend and Story 

From thyme-sweet pastures grey with dews 
The milch-cows came with swinging tails: 
And whirling high the wailing mews 
Screamed o'er the brothers at their pails, 

A single spire of smoke arose, 
And hung, a phantom, in the cold ; 
Three younger monks set forth to close 
The ewes and lambs within the fold. 

The purple twilight stole above 
The grey-green dunes, the furrowed leas: 
And Dusk, with breast as of a dove, 
Brooded: and everywhere was peace. 

Within the low refectory sate 

The little clan of holy folk : 

Then, while the brothers mused and ate, 

The wayfarer arose and spoke. . . . 

'' Colum of lona-Isle, 

And ye who dwell in God's quiet place, 

Before I crossed your narrow Jcyle 

I looked in Heaven upon Christ's face/^ 

Thereat St. Columns startled glance 
Swept o'er the man so poorly clad, 

The Cross of the Dumb 131 

And all the brethren looked askance 
In fear the pilgrim-gnest was mad. 

'' Andy Colum of God's Church i' the sea 
And all ye Brothers of the Rood, 
The Lord Christ gave a dream to me 
And hade me bring it ye as food. 

'^ Lift to the wandering cloud your eyes 
And let them scan the wandering Deep. . . • 
Hark ye not there the wandering sighs 
Of brethren ye as outcasts keep? '' 

Thereat the stranger bowed, and blessed; 
Then, grave and silent, sought his cell: 
St. Colum mused upon his guest, 
Dumb wonder on the others fell. 

At dead of night the Abbot came 

To where the weary wayfarer slept : 

'^ Tell me," he said, '' thy holy name . . . '* 

— No more, for on bowed knees he wept. . . . 

Great awe and wonder fell on him; 
His mind was like a lonely wild 
When suddenly is heard a hymn 
Sung by a little innocent child. 

132 Christmas in Legend and Story 

'For now he knew their guest to be 
No man as he and his, but one 
Who in the Courts of Ecstasy 
Worships, flame- winged, the Eternal Son. 

The poor bare cell was filled with light. 
That came from the swung moons the Seven 
Seraphim swing day and night 
Adown the infinite walls of Heaven. 

But on the fern-wove mattress lay 
No weary guest. St. Colum kneeled, 
And found no trace; but, ashen-grey, 
Far oif he heard glad anthems pealed. 

At sunrise when the matins-bell 
Made a cold silvery music fall 
Through silence of each lonely cell 
And over every fold and stall, 

St. Colum called his monks to come 
And follow him to where his hands 
Would raise the Great Cross of the Dumb 
Upon the Holy Island's sands. . . . 

'' For I shall call from out the Deep 
And from the grey fields of the skies. 

The Cross of the Dumb 133 

The brethren we as outcasts keep, 

Our kindred of the dumb wild eyes. . . . 

'' Behold, on this Christ's natal morn, 
God wills the widening of His laws, 
Another miracle to be born — 
For lo, our guest an Angel was! ... 

** His Dream the Lord Christ gave to him 
To bring to us as Christ-Day food. 
That Dream shall rise a holy hymn 
And hang like a flower upon the Eood ! . . . 

Thereat, while all with wonder stared 
St. Colum raised the Holy Tree: 
Then all with Christ-Day singing fared 
To where the last sands lipped the sea. 

St. Colum raised his arms on high . . . 
'^ ye, all creatures of the wing, 
Come here from out the fields o' the shy, 
Come here and learn a wondrous thing! " 

At that the wild clans of the air 
Came sweeping in a mist of wings — 
Ospreys and fierce solanders there, 
Sea-swallows wheeling mazy rings, 


134 Christmas in Legend and Story 

The foam-white mew, the green-black scart, 
The famishing hawk, the wailing tern, 
All birds from the sand-bnilding mart 
To lonely bittern and heron. . . . 

St. Colum raised beseeching hands 
And blessed the pastures of the sea: 
^^ Come, all ye creatures, to the sands, 
Come and behold the Sacred Tree! " 

At that the cold clans of the wave 
With spray and surge and splash appeared: 
Up from each wrack-strewn, lightless cave 
Dim day-struck eyes affrighted peered. 

The pollacks came with rushing haste, 
The great sea-cod, the speckled bass; 
Along the foaming tideway raced 
The herring-tribes like shimmering glass: 

The mackerel and the dog-fish ran. 
The whiting, haddock, in their wake : 
The great sea-flounders upward span, 
The fierce-eyed conger and the hake: 

The greatest and the least of these 
From hidden pools and tidal ways 

The Cross of the Dumb 135 

Surged in their myriads from the seas 
And stared at St. Columba's face. 

^ ' Hearken, ' ' he cried, with solemn voice — 
'' Hearken! ye people of the Deep, 
Ye people of the skies. Rejoice! 
No more your soulless terror keep! 

** For lo, an Angel from the Lord 
Hath shown us that wherein we sin — 
But now we humbly do His Word 
And call you. Brothers, kith and kin. . . » 

'^ No more we claim the world as ours 
And everything that therein is — 
To-day, Christ's Day, the infinite powers 
Decree a common share of bliss. 

*' I know not if the new-waked soul 

That stirs in every heart I see 

Has yet to reach the far-oif goal 

Whose symbol is this Cross-shaped Tree. . . . 

*' But, dumb kindred of the sides, 
kinsfolk of the pathless seas, 

136 Christmas in Legend and Story 

All scorn and hate I exorcise, 

And wish you nought but Love and Peace! " 

Thus, on that Christmas-day of old 
St. Colum broke the ancient spell. 
A thousand years away have rolled, 
'Tis now . . . ^^ a baseless miracle." 

fellow-kinsmen of the Deep, 

kindred of the wind and cloud, 

God^s children too . . . how He must weep 

Who on that day was glad and proudl 


H. E. G. Pakdee 

About the year 650, among the servants in 
the ancient Abbey of Streonschall, there was a 
cowherd whose name was Caedmon. The habits 
of the people of that age were simple and rude / 
their houses were comfortless huts, their dress 
was made from the skins of their flocks, or 
from animals taken in the chasejrthey had no 
books, and their literature was limited to the 
Latin manuscripts of the Church, which few of 
the monks even were learned enough to read, 
and fewer still to translate. Amid such influ- 
ences^he life of a cowherd could scarcely be 
lifted above that of the beasts he cared for/ 
if his hunger and thirst were satisfied, he 
would ask no more than a pleasant, daisied 
meadow in summer, and a warm nook in the 
winter. /But Caedmon had a sensitive nature, 
that craved something nobler. When the min- 
strels struck their harps, and sung the wild 


138 Christmas in Legend and Story 

traditions and fierce conflicts of their tribes, 
and the guests followed with boisterous jest, 
in their uncouth ballads, Caedmon sat silent 
and gloomy. 

One evening, as the harp, passing from one 
to another, drew nearer him, dreading the oft- 
repeated taunts of his fellows, he crept away 
in the shadows, and went to his only bed, — a 
truss of straw. 

After a while he slept, and in his sleep some 
one of lofty stature, and with kindly-beaming 
eyes, stood beside him, and commanded him to 
sing. ** I cannot,'' replied Caedmon, despond- 

** Sing! " was the uncompromising answer. 

'' What shall I sing? " 

** The origin of all things." 

Immediately before his quickened sense 
swept a vision of Creation, and to his glad 
surprise he described it all in song. The next 
morning he remembered, and repeated it; and 
the monks, hearing of it, took him into the 
monastery, and taught him scenes and sen- 
tences from the Bible, which he rendered into 
verse, and so became the first of the long line 
of sacred poets. 

The Christmas Song of Ccedmon 139 

It was Christinas Eve, and the great hall of 
the Abbey was decked with the Druids' sacred 
mistletoe with its jjouinli/i fiuiUioi, the bright 
green of the ivy, and branches of holly, with 
scarlet, shining berries. Great logs were 
heaped on the broad stones in the middle of 
the hall, and jets of flame leaped up to brighten 
the low, smoke-stained ceiling, and restless 
shadows flitted along the wall, while the smoke 
escaped through the opening in the roof, for 
chimneys were then, and for many centuries 
after, unknown. /The unglazed windows were 
closed at nightiall by wooden shutters, and 
rude comfort cheered the inmates^A robin, 
who had fluttered in at dusk, and found Christ- 
mas cheer on the holly boughs and warmth for 
his numbed little feet, trilled a song of grati- 
tude that winter had made such speed to be 

Two nights before, a company of pilgrims 
from the convents of Palestine, had come to 
the monastery. They had been many months 
on their way, eagerly welcomed wherever they 
stopped, for journeying was both difficult and 
dangerous, and travellers from such a remote 
region were rarely met. Their dark complex- 

140 Christmas in Legend and Story 

ions, hair and beards; their bright, mobile 
expression; their manners toned by the graces 
of Eastern civilization, were a strange con- 
trast to the shaggy, elfish, ruddy-faced throng 
about them. This Christmas Eve they were 
telling the monks wonderful stories of the Holy 
Land; its beautiful, vine-clad hills; its trop- 
ical, luscious fruits; its towering, plumy 
palms and hoary cedars; the long lines of 
caravans that wound over the silent, pathless 
deserts to bring to its cities the riches of 
Oriental commerce; the palaces and heathen 
temples of those cities, and the traditional 
glory of the Temple, with its magnificence of 
gold, and precious stones, and woods and ivory. 
On the table were huge platters of smoking 
meats, and serving men brought in flagons 
and tankards of ale, and feasting, stories and 
minstrelsy held the hours till the midnight bell 
called to the first mass and ushered in Christ- 
mas Day. Caedmon, coming back from the 
frosty chapel, saw the stars shining in the 
brilliance of winter skies. His heart was suf- 
fused with all he had heard the pilgrims re- 
peat/^for the first time it entered his mind 
that the same stars that he saw twinkling, 

The Christmas Song of Ccedmon 141 

held their course at that glad time when '' the 
morning-stars sang together, and all the sons 
of God shouted for joy,'' — a prelude to this 
other song of '^ tjie great multitude of the 
heavenly host.'/ He entered the hall, and 
when the company reassembled, he took his 
harp, and sang with power and pathos of the 
slumbering flocks on Judea's upland pastures; 
the faithful, watching shepherds; the loneli- 
ness and silence of the night; the sudden, 
startling brightness that shone about them, 
and enveloped their angel visitant, who kindly 
soothed their alarm with '' Fear not; " and 
the outburst of angelic song, unheard by the 
ears dulled with sleep, but overpowering these 
astonished men. " happy shepherds! who 
alone among men, were ever privileged to hear 
the songs of heaven. " 

His audience was thrilled. Never had the 
monks heard Caedmon, or any other minstrel, 
sing with such fire; the intervening centuries 
fled before his song. They, too, went to the 
lowly manger, and saw the Divine Infant 
hushed on the happy breast of his young 
mother and felt Mary's awe when the shep- 
herds told her what they that night had seen 

142 Christmas in Legend and Story 

and heard. While CsBdmon sang they saw the 
caravan winding over an unmarked way and 
the wise men of the Orient following ever the 
strange star, till, after weeks of travel, it stood 
over the place where the young Child lay. 
They saw, too, the aged, bearded Melchior, 
Gaspar, young and fresh, and Balthazar the 
Moor, descend from their kneeling camels with 
their kingly offerings of gold, frankincense 
and myrrh and prostrate themselves in rever- 
ence before the Holy Babe. 

** 'Twas ages, ages long ago,'' and Caedmon 
and his hymns are nigh forgotten, but with 
each returning Christmas-tide may be heard 
again, as CsBdmon heard of yore, the angels' 
song of joy: *^ Glory to God in the highest, and 
on earth peace, good will toward men." 

John Mason Neale 

Good King Wenceslas looked out 
On the Feast of Stephen, 

When the snow lay round about, 
Deep, and crisp, and even. 

Brightly shone the moon that night 
Though the frost was cruel, 

When a poor man came in sight, 
Gathering winter fuel. 

** Hither, page, and stand by me, 
If thou know'st it, telling. 

Yonder peasant, who is he? 

Where and what his dwelling? '' 

** Sire, he lives a good league hence, 
Underneath the mountain; 

Eight against the forest fence, 
By Saint Agnes' fountain." 


144 Christmas in Legend and Story 

'' Bring me flesh, and bring me wine, 
Bring me pine-logfe hither ; 

Thou and I will see him dine, 
When we bear them thither." 

Page and monarch, forth they went, 

Forth they went together; 
Through the rude wind's wild lament 

And the bitter weather. 

^* Sire, the night is darker now, 
And the wind blows stronger; 

Fails my heart, I know not how, 
I can go no longer.'' 

** Mark my footsteps, good my page; 

Tread thou in them boldly: 
Thou shalt find the winter rage 

Freeze thy blood less coldly." 

In his master's steps he trod, 
Where the snow lay dinted; 

Heat was in the very sod 

Which the saint had printed. 

Good King Wenceslas 145 

Therefore, Christian men, be sure, 

Wealth or rank possessing, 
Ye who now will bless the poor, 

Shall yourselves find blessing. 


Sophie Jewett 

*' The beautiful Mother is bending 
Low where her Baby lies 
Helpless and frail, for her tending; 
But she knows the glorious eyes. 

** The Mother smiles and rejoices 

While the Baby laughs in the hay; 
She listens to heavenly voices: 

* The child shall be King, one day.' 

** dear little Christ in the manger, 
Let me make merry with Thee. 
King, in my hour of danger, 
Wilt Thou be strong for me? '' 
— Adapted from the Latin of Jacopone da Todi, 
Thirteenth Century. 

One night in December . . . Brother Fran- 
cis, with one companion, was walking through 
the beautiful valley of the Velino River, toward 


The Christmas at Greccio 147 

Eieti, a little city where he came often on his 
way from Assisi to Eome. To-night he had 
turned somewhat aside from the main road, 
for he wished to spend Christmas with his 
friend, Sir John of Greccio. Greccio is a tiny 
village, lying where the foothills begin, on the 
western side of the valley. The very feet of 
Brother Francis knew the road so well that he 
could have walked safely in the darkness, but 
it was not dark. The full moon floated over 
the valley, making the narrow river and the 
sharp outlines of the snow-covered mountains 
shine like silver. The plain and the lower hills 
were pasture land, and, not far from the road, 
on a grassy slope, the Brothers saw the red 
glow of an almost spent shepherds ' fire. * ' Let 
us stop and visit our brothers, the shepherds," 
said Francis, and they turned toward the 
fading fire. 

There was no sense of winter in the air, 
scarcely a touch of frost, and the only snow 
was that on the silver peaks against the sky,. 
The shepherds, three men and one boy, lay 
sleeping soundly on the bare ground, with 
their sheepskin coats drawn closely around 
them. All about them the sheep were sleeping. 

148 Christmas in Legend and Story 

too, but the solemn white sheep dogs were wide 
awake. If a stranger ^s foot had trod the grass 
never so softly, every dog would have barked, 
and every shepherd would have been on his 
feet in an instant. But the dogs trotted si- 
lently up to the Grey Brothers and rubbed 
against them, as if they said, '^ We are glad 
to see you again," for they knew the friendly 
feet of the Little Poor Man, and they had 
more than once helped him to eat the bread 
that was his only dinner. Followed by the 
dogs, Francis walked about among the shep- 
herds, but they slept on, as only men who live 
out of doors can sleep, and Francis could not 
find it in his heart to waken them. The sheep 
lay huddled together in groups for more 
warmth. Around one small square of grass a 
net was stretched, and, inside it, were the 
mother sheep who had little lambs. There 
was no sound except the faint cry, now and 
then, of a baby lamb. The coals over which the 
shepherds had cooked their supper paled from 
dull red to grey, and there was only a thin 
column of smoke, white in the moonlight. 
Francis sat down on a stone, and the largest 
of the white dogs pressed up against his knee. 

The Christmas at Greccio 149 

Another went dutifully back to his post beside 
the fold where the mothers and babies slept. 
The Italian hillside seemed to Francis to 
change to that of Bethlehem, which he had 
seen, perhaps, on his Eastern journey; the 
clear December night seemed like that of the 
first Christmas Eve. ^* How these shepherds 
sleep ! * ' he thought ; ' * how they would awaken 
if they heard the * Peace on earth ' of the an- 
gels' song! " Then he remembered sadly how 
the armies that called themselves Christian 
had, year after year, battled with the Saracens 
over the cradle and the tomb of the Prince of 
Peace. The moonlight grew misty about him, 
the silver heights of the mountains and the 
silver line of the river faded, for the eyes of 
Brother Francis were full of tears. 

As the two Brothers went on their way, 
Francis grew light of heart again. The sight 
of the shepherds sleeping on the grass had 
given him a new idea, and he was planning a 
surprise for his friends at Greccio. For at 
Greccio all were his friends, from Sir John, 
his host, down to the babies in the street. In 
the valley of Eieti he was almost as well 
known and as dearly loved as in his own valley 

150 Christmas in Legend and Story 

of Assisi. The children of Greccio had never 
heard of Christmas trees, nor, perhaps, of 
Christmas presents. I am not sure that, in the 
thirteenth century, Italians had the beautiful 
custom which they now have of giving pres- 
ents at Twelfth Night, in memory of the com- 
ing of the three kings with their gifts to the 
Christ Child; but in the thirteenth century, 
even as now, Christmas was the happiest fes- 
tival of the year. This year all the folk of 
Greccio, big and little, were happier than usual 
because their beloved Brother Francis was to 
help them keep their Christmas-tide. Next 
day Francis confided his plan to his friend, 
Sir John, who promised that all should be 
ready on Christmas Eve. 

On the day before Christmas, the people 
came from all the country around to see and 
hear Brother Francis. Men, women and chil- 
dren, dressed in their holiday clothes, walking, 
riding on donkeys, crowding into little carts 
drawn by great white oxen, from everywhere 
and in every fashion, the country folk came 
toward Greccio. Many came from far away, 
and the early winter darkness fell long before 
they could reach the town. The light of their 

St. Francis. 
From Painting by Francia. 

The Christmas at Greccio 151 

torches might be seen on the open road, and 
the sound of their singing reached the gates 
of Greccio before them. That night the little 
town was almost as crowded as was Bethlehem 
on the eve of the first Christmas. The crowds 
were poor folk, for the most part, peasants 
from the fields, charcoal burners from the 
mountains, shepherds in their sheepskin coats 
and trousers, made with the wool outside, so 
that the wearers looked like strange, two- 
legged animals. The four shepherds who had 
slept so soundly a few nights before were of 
the company, but they knew nothing of their 
midnight visitors. The white dogs knew, but 
they could keep a secret. The shepherds were 
almost as quiet as their dogs. They always 
talked and sang less than other people, having 
grown used to long silences among their 

Gathered at last into the square before the 
■church, by the light of flaring torches, for the 
\noon would rise late, the people saw with 
wonder and delight the surprise which Brother 
Francis and Sir John had prepared for them. 
They looked into a real stable. There was the 
manger full of hay, there were a live ox and 

152 Christmas in Legend and Story 

a live ass. Even by torchlight their breath 
showed in the frosty air. And there, on the 
hay, lay a real baby, wrapped from the cold, 
asleep and smiling. It looked as sweet and 
innocent as the Christ Child Himself. The 
people shouted with delight. They clapped 
their hands and waved their torches. 

Then there was silence, for Brother Francis 
stood before them, and the voice they loved so 
well, and had come so far to hear, began to 
read the old story of the birth of the Child 
Jesus, of the shepherds in the fields, and of the 
angels' song. When the reading was ended. 
Brother Francis talked to them as a father 
might speak to his children. He told of the 
love that is gentle as a little child, that is will- 
ing to be poor and humble as the Baby who 
was laid in a manger among the cattle. He 
begged his listeners to put anger and hatred 
and envy out of their hearts this Christmas 
Eve, and to think only thoughts of peace and 
good will. All listened eagerly while Brother 
Francis spoke, but the moment he finished the 
great crowd broke into singing. From the 
church tower the bells rang loud; the torches 
waved wildly, while voices here and there 

The Christmas at Greccio 153 

shouted for Brother Francis and for the 
Blessed Little Christ. Never before had such 
glorious hymns nor such joyous shouting been 
heard in the town of Greccio. Only the moth- 
ers, with babies in their arms, and the shep- 
herds, in their woolly coats, looked on silently 
and thought; ^' We are in Bethlehem." 

William Canton 

The Prince Bishop Evrard stood gazing at 
his marvellous Cathedral; and as he let his 
eyes wander in delight over the three deep 
sculptured portals and the double gallery above 
them, and the great rose window, and the ring- 
ers' gallery, and so up to the massive western 
towers, he felt as though his heart were clap- 
ping hands for joy within him. And he 
thought to himself, ** Surely in all the world 
God has no more beautiful house than this 
which I have built with such long labor and at 
so princely an outlay of my treasure." And 
thus the Prince Bishop fell into the sin of vain- 
glory, and, though he was a holy man, he did 
not perceive that he had fallen, so filled with 
gladness was he at the sight of his completed 

In the double gallery of the west front there 
were many great statues with crowns and scep- 
tres, but a niche over the central portal was 


The Sin of the Prince Bishop 155 

empty, and this the Prince Bishop intended to 
fill with a statue of himself. It was to be a 
very small simple statue, as became one who 
prized lowliness of heart, but as he looked up 
at the vacant place it gave him pleasure to 
think that hundreds of years after he was dead 
people would pause before his effigy and praise 
him and his work. And this, too, was vain- 

As the Prince Bishop lay asleep that night 
a mighty six-winged Angel stood beside him 
and bade him rise. '' Come,'^ he said, " and 
I will show thee some of those who have 
worked with thee in building the great church, 
and whose service in God^s eyes has been more 
worthy than thine.'' And the Angel led him 
past the Cathedral and down the steep street 
of the ancient city, and though it was midday, 
the people going to and fro did not seem to see 
them. Beyond the gates they followed the 
shelving road till they came to green level 
fields, and there in the middle of the road, be- 
tween grassy banks covered white with cherry 
blossom, two great white oxen, yoked to a 
huge block of stone, stood resting before they 
began the toilsome ascent. 

156 Christmas in Legend and Story 

** Look! '* said the Angel; and the Prince 
Bishop saw a little blue-winged bird which 
perched on the stout yoke beam fastened to the 
horns of the oxen, and sang such a heavenly 
song of rest and contentment that the big 
shaggy creatures ceased to blow stormily 
through their nostrils, and drew long tranquil 
breaths instead. 

*^ Look again! '' said the Angel. And from 
a hut of wattles and clay a little peasant girl 
came with a bundle of hay in her arms, and 
gave first one of the oxen and then the other 
a wisp. Then she stroked their black muzzles, 
and laid her rosy face against their white 
cheeks. Then the Prince Bishop saw the rude 
teamster rise from his rest on the bank and 
cry to his cattle, and the oxen strained against 
the beam and the thick ropes tightened, and 
the huge block of stone was once more set in 

And when the Prince Bishop saw that it was 
these fellow-workers whose service was more 
worthy in God's eyes than his own, he was 
abashed and sorrowful for his sin, and the 
tears of his own weeping awoke him. So he 
sent for the master of the sculptors and bade 

The Sin of the Prince Bishop 157 

him fill the little niche over the middle portal, 
not with his own effigy but with an image of 
the child; and he bade him make two colossal 
figures of the white oxen; and to the great 
wonderment of the people these were set up 
high in the tower so that men could see them 
against the blue sky. ** And as for me," he 
said, ^^ let my body be buried, with my face 
downward, outside the great church, in front 
of the middle entrance, that men may trample 
on my vainglory and that I may serve them as 
a stepping-stone to the house of God; and the 
little child shall look on me when I lie in the 

Now the little girl in the niche was carved 
with wisps of hay in her hands, but the child 
who had fed the oxen knew nothing of this, 
and as she grew up she forgot her childish 
service, so that when she had grown to woman- 
hood and chanced to see this statue over the 
portal she did not know it was her own self in 
stone. But what she had done was not for- 
gotten in heaven. 

And as for the oxen, one of them looked 
east and one looked west across the wide fruit- 
ful country about the foot of the hill-city. And 

158 Christmas in Legend and Story 

one caught the first grey gleam, and the first 
rosy flush, and the first golden splendor of the 
sunrise; and the other was lit with the color 
of the sunset long after the lowlands had faded 
away in the blue mist of the twilight. Weary 
men and worn women looking up at them felt 
that a gladness and a glory and a deep peace 
had fallen on the life of toil. And then, when 
people began to understand, they said it was 
w^ell that these mighty laborers, who had 
helped to build the house, should still find a 
place of service and honor in the house; and 
they remembered that the Master of the house 
had once been a Babe warmed in a manger by 
the breath of kine. And at the thought of this 
men grew more pitiful to their cattle, and to 
the beasts in servitude, and to all dumb ani- 
mals. And that was one good fruit which 
sprang from the Prince Bishop ^s repentance. 

Now over the colossal stone oxen hung the 
bells of the Cathedral. On Christmas Eve the 
ringers, according to the old custom, ascended 
to their gallery to ring in the birth of the Babe 
Divine. At the moment of midnight the master 
ringer gave the word, and the great bells began 
to swing in joyful sequence. Down below in 

Christmas Chimes. 

From Painting by Blashfield. 

The Sin of the Prince Bishop 159 

the crowded church lay the image of the new- 
born Child on the cold straw, and at His haloed 
head stood the images of the ox and the ass. 
Far out across the snow-roofed city, far away 
over the white glistening country rang the 
glad music of the tower. People who went to 
their doors to listen cried in astonishment: 
*^ Hark! what strange music is that? It 
sounds as if the lowing of cattle were mingled 
with the chimes of the bells. ^* In truth it was 
so. And in every byre the oxen and the kine 
answered the strange sweet cadences with their 
lowing, and the great stone oxen lowed back to 
their kin of the meadow through the deep notes 
of the joy-peal. 

In the fulness of time the Prince Bishop 
Evrard died and was buried as he had willed, 
with his face humbly turned to the earth ; and 
to this day the weather-wasted figure of the 
little girl looks down on him from her niche, 
and the slab over Ms grave serves as a step- 
ping-stone to pious feet. 

Taken by permission of E. P. Button and Company from 
** A Child's Book of Saints," by William Canton, Everyman's 


Hjalmab Hjorth Boyesen 

Earl Sigued, he rides o'er the foam-crested 
And he heeds not the billowy brawl, 
For he yearns to behold gentle Swanwhite, the 
Who abides in Sir Burislav's hall. 

*' Earl Sigurd, the viking, he comes, he is near! 

Earl Signrd, the scourge of the sea; 
Among the wild rovers who dwell on the deep, 

There is none that is dreaded as he. 

** Oh, hie ye, ye maidens^ and hide where ye 
Ere the clang of his war-ax ye hear, 
For the wolf of the woods has more pity than 
And his heart is as grim as his spear." 


Earl Sigurd's Christmas Eve 161 

Thus rang the dread tidings, from castle to hut, 
Through the length of Sir Burislav's land, 

As they spied the red pennon unfurled to the 
And the galleys that steered for the strand. 

But with menacing brow, looming high in his 
Stood Earl Sigurd, and fair to behold 
Was his bright, yellow hair, as it waved in the 
'Neath the glittering helmet of gold. 

*^ Up, my comrades, and stand with your 
broadswords in hand. 
For the war is great Odin's delight; 
And the Thunderer proud, how he laughs in his 
When the Norsemen prepare for the fight ! ' ' 

And the light galleys bore the fierce crew to the 

And naught good did their coming forebode. 
And a wail rose on high to the storm-riven sky 

As to Burislav's castle they strode. 

162 Christmas in Legend and Story 

Then the stout-hearted men of Sir Burislav's 
To the gate-way came thronging full fast, 
And the battle-blade rang with a murderous 
Borne aloft on the wings of the blast. 

And they hewed and they thrust, till each man 
bit the dust. 
Their fierce valor availing them naught. 
But the Thunderer proud, how he laughed in 
his cloud. 
When he saw how the Norsemen had fought ! 

Then came Burislav forth; to the men of the 

Thus in quivering accents spake he: 
^ * 0, ye warriors, name me the ransom ye claim. 

Or in gold, or in robes, or in fee.'' 

'' Oh, what reck I thy gold? " quoth Earl 
Sigurd, the bold; 
** Has not Thor laid it all in my hand? 
Give me Swanwhite, the fair, and by Balder I 
I shall never revisit thy land. 

Earl Sigurd's Christmas Eve 163 

** For my vengeance speeds fast, and I come 
like the blast 
Of the night o 'er the billowy brine ; 
I forget not thy scorn and thy laugh on that 
When I wooed me the maid that was mine.'' 

Then the chief, sore afraid, brought the lily- 
white maid 

To the edge of the blood-sprinkled field. 

And they bore her aloft o'er the sward of the 

On the vault of the glittering shield. 

But amain in their path, in a whirlwind of 

Came young Harold, Sir Burislav's son; 
With a great voice he cried, while the echoes 

replied : 
** Lo, my vengeance, it cometh anon! " 

* ^ Hark ye, Norsemen, hear great tidings : 
Odin, Thor, and Frey are dead. 

And white Christ, the strong and gentle, 
standeth peace-crowned in their stead. 

164 Christmas in Legend and Story 

Lo, the blood-stained day of vengeance to the 

ancient night is hurled, 
And the dawn of Christ is beaming blessings 

o'er the new-born world. 

** See the Cross in splendor gleaming far and 

wide o'er pine-clad heath, 
While the flaming blade of battle slumbers in 

its golden sheath. 
And before the lowly Savior, e 'en the rider of 

the sea, 
Sigurd, tamer of the billow, he hath bent the 

stubborn knee. ' ' 

Now at Yule-tide sat he feasting on the shore 

of Drontheim fiord. 
And his stalwart swains about him watched 

the bidding of their lord. 
Huge his strength was, but his visage, it was 

mild and fair to see; 
Ne'er old Norway, heroes' mother, bore a 

mightier son than he. 

With her maids sat gentle Swanwhite 'neath a 

roof of gleaming shields, 
As the rarer lily blossoms 'mid the green herbs 

of the fields ; 

Earl Sigurd's Christmas Eve 165 

To and fro their merry words flew lightly 

through the torch-lit room, 
Like a shuttle deftly skipping through the 

mazes of the loom. 

And the scalds with nimble fingers o'er the 

sounding harp-strings swept; 
Now the strain in laughter rippled, now with 

hidden woe it wept. 
For they sang of Time 's beginning, ere the sun 

the day brought forth — 
Sang as sing the ocean breezes through the 

pine-woods of the North. 

Bolder beat the breasts of Norsemen — when 

amid the tuneful din 
Open sprang the heavy hall-doors, and a 

stranger entered in. 
Tall his growth, though low he bended o'er a 

twisted staff of oak, 
And his stalwart shape was folded in a dun, 

unseemly cloak. 

Straight the Earl his voice uplifted: ^* Hail 

to thee, my guest austere! 
Drain with me this cup of welcome : thou shalt 

share our Yule-tide cheer. 

166 Christmas in Legend and Story 

Thou shalt sit next to my high-seat e'en 

though lowly be thy birth, 
For to-night our Lord, the Savior, came a 

stranger to his earth.'' 

Up then rose the gentle Swanwhite, and her 

eyes with fear grew bright; 
Down the dusky hall she drifted, as a shadow 

drifts by night. 
^^ If my lord would hold me worthy," low she 

spake, *^ then grant me leave 
To abide between the stranger and my lord, 

this Christmas eve." 

*^ Strange, guest, is women's counsel, still 

their folly is the staff 
Upon which our wisdom leaneth," and he 

laughed a burly laugh; 
Lifted up her lissome body with a husband's 

tender pride, 
Kissed her brow, and placed her gently in the 

high-seat at his side. 

But the guest stood pale and quivered, where 

the red flames roofward rose. 
And he clenched the brimming goblet in his 

fingers, fierce and close, 

Earl Sigurd's Christmas Eve 167 

Then he spake: ** All hail, Earl Sigurd, 
mightiest of the Norsemen, hail! 

Ere I name to thee my tidings, I will taste thy 
flesh and ale." 

Quoth the merry Earl with fervor: *^ Courte- 
ous is thy speech and free : 

While thy worn soul thou refreshest, I will 
sing a song to thee; 

For beneath that dusky garment thou mayst 
hide a hero's heart. 

And my hand, though stiff, hath scarcely yet 
unlearned the singer's art.'' 

Then the arms so tightly folded round his neck 

the Earl unclasped. 
And his heart was stirred within him as the 

silvern strings he grasped. 
But with eyes of meek entreaty, closely to his 

side she clung. 
While his mighty soul rose upward on the 

billows of the song. 

For he sang, in tones impassioned, of the death 

of -^sir bright. 
Sang the song of Christ the glorious, who was 

born a babe to-night, 

r^S Christmas in Legend and Story 

How the hosts of heaven victorious joined the 

anthem of his birth, 
Of the kings the starlight guided from the far 

lands of the earth. 

And anon, with bodeful glamour fraught, the 

hurrying strain sped on. 
As he sang the law of vengeance and the wrath 

forever gone, 
Sang of gods with murder sated, who had laid 

the fair earth waste, 
Who had whetted swords of Norsemen, 

plunged them into Norsemen's breast. 

But he shook a shower of music, rippling from 

the silver strings, 
And bright visions rose of angels and of fair 

and shining things 
As he sang of heaven's rejoicing at the mild 

and bloodless reign 
Of the gentle Christ who bringeth peace and 

good-will unto men! 

But the guest sat dumb and hearkened, staring 

at the brimming bowl, 
While the lay with mighty wing-beats swept 

the darkness of his soul. 

Earl Sigurd's Christmas Eve 169 

For the Christ who worketh wonders as of old, 

so e'en to-day 
Sent his angel downward gliding on the ladder 

of the lay. 

As the host his song had ended with a last re- 
sounding twang, 

And within the harp's dumb chambers mur- 
murous echoes faintly rang, 

Up then sprang the guest, and straightway 
downward rolled his garment dun — 

There stood Harold, the avenger, Burislav's 
undaunted son. 

High he loomed above the feasters in the torch- 
light dim and weird, 

From his eyes hot tears were streaming, 
sparkling in his tawny beard; 

Shining in his sea-blue mantle stood he, 'mid 
that wondering throng. 

And each maiden thought him fairest, and each 
warrior vowed him strong. 

Swift he bared his blade of battle, flung it 

quivering on the board : 
* * Lo ! " he cried, ' ' I came to bid thee baleful 

greeting with my sword; 

170 Christmas in Legend and Story 

Thou hast dulled the edge that never shrank 

from battle's fiercest test — 
Now I come, as comes a brother, swordless unto 

brother's breast. 

** With three hundred men I landed in the 
gloaming at thy shore — 

Dost thou hear their axes clanking on their 
shields without thy door? 

But a yearning woke within me my sweet sis- 
ter's voice to hear. 

To behold her face and whisper words of 
warning in her ear. 

** But I knew not of the new-born king, who 

holds the earth in sway, 
And whose voice like fragrance blended in the 

soarings of thy lay. 
This my vengeance now, brother: foes as 

friends shall hands unite; 
Teach me, thou, the wondrous tidings, and the 

law of Christ the white." 

Touched as by an angel's glory, strangely 

shone Earl Sigurd's face. 
As he locked his foe, his brother, in a brotherly 

embrace ; 

Earl Sigurd's Christmas Eve 171 

And each warrior upward leaping, swung his 

horn with gold bedight : 
'''' Hail to Sigurd, hail to Harold, three times 

hail to Christ the white! '' 

Florence Scannell 

It was Christmas Eve. The night was very 
dark and the snow falling fast, as Hermann, 
the charcoal-burner, drew his cloak tighter 
around him, and the wind whistled fiercely 
through the trees of the Black Forest. He had 
been to carry a load to a castle near, and was 
now hastening home to his little hut. Although 
he worked very hard, he was poor, gaining 
barely enough for the wants of his wife and 
his four little children. He was thinking of 
them, when he heard a faint wailing. Guided 
by the sound, he groped about and found a 
little child, scantily clothed, shivering and sob- 
bing by itself in the snow. 

< * Why, little one, have they left thee here all 
alone to face this cruel blast? '' 

The child answered nothing, but looked pite- 
ously up in the charcoal-burner's face. 

'* Well, I cannot leave thee here. Thou 

would 'st be dead before the morning." 


A Christmas Legend 173 

So saying, Hermann raised it in his arms, 
wrapping it in his cloak and warming its little 
cold hands in his bosom. When he arrived at 
his hut, he put down the child and tapped at 
the door, which was immediately thrown open, 
and the children rushed to meet him. 

^^ Here, wife, is a guest to our Christmas 
Eve supper,'' said he, leading in the little one, 
who held timidly to his finger with its tiny 

'^ And welcome he is,'' said the wife. '' Now 
let him come and warm himself by the fire." 

The children all pressed round to welcome 
and gaze at the little new-comer. They showed 
him their pretty fir-tree, decorated with bright, 
colored lamps in honor of Christmas Eve, 
which the good mother had endeavored to 
make a fete for the children. 

Then they sat down to supper, each child 
contributing of its portion for the guest, look- 
ing with admiration at its clear, blue eyes and 
golden hair, which shone so as to shed a 
brighter light in the little room; and as they 
gazed, it grew into a sort of halo round his 
head, and his eyes beamed with a heavenly 
luster. Soon two white wings appeared at his 

174 Christmas in Legend and Story 

shoulders, and he seemed to grow larger and 
larger, and then the beautiful vision vanished, 
spreading out his hands as in benediction over 

Hermann and his wife fell on their knees, 
exclaiming, in awe-struck voices : * * The holy 
Christ-child! '' and then embraced their won- 
dering children in joy and thankfulness that 
they had entertained the Heavenly Guest. 

The next morning, as Hermann passed by 
the place where he had found the fair child, he 
saw a cluster of lovely white flowers, with dark 
green leaves, looking as though the snow itself 
had blossomed. Hermann plucked some, and 
carried them reverently home to his wife and 
children, who treasured the fair blossoms and 
tended them carefully in remembrance of that 
wonderful Christmas Eve, calling them Chrys- 
anthemums ; and every year, as the time came 
round, they put aside a portion of their feast 
and gave it to some poor little child, according 
to the words of the Christ: *^ Inasmuch as ye 
have done it unto one of the least of these my 
brethren, ye have done it unto me." 



Selma Lageelof 

EoBBER MoTHEE, ^^vho Hved in Eobbers' Cave 
up in Goinge forest, went down to the village 
one day on a begging tour. Eobber Father, 
who was an outlawed man, did not dare to 
leave the forest, but had to content himself 
with lying in wait for the wayfarers who ven- 
tured within its borders. But at that time 
travellers were not very plentiful in Southern 
Skane. If it so happened that the man had 
had a few weeks of ill luck with his hunt, his 
wife would take to the road. She took with her 
five youngsters, and each youngster wore a 
ragged leathern suit and birch-bark shoes and 
bore a sack on his back as long as himself. 
When Eobber Mother stepped inside the door 
of a cabin, no one dared refuse to give her 
whatever she demanded ; for she was not above 
coming back the following night and setting 


176 Christmas in Legend and Story 

fire to the house if she had not been well re- 
ceived. Eobber Mother and her brood were 
worse than a pack of wolves, and many a man 
felt like running a spear through them; but it 
was never done, because they all knew that the 
man stayed up in the forest, and he would have 
known how to wreak vengeance if anything had 
happened to the children or the old woman. 

Now that Robber Mother went from house 
to house and begged, she came one day to 
Ovid, which at that time was a cloister. She 
rang the bell of the cloister gate and asked for 
food. The watchman let down a small wicket 
in the gate and handed her six round bread 
cakes — one for herself and one for each of 
the five children. 

While the mother was standing quietly at the 
gate, her youngsters were running about. And 
now one of them came and pulled at her skirt, 
as a signal that he had discovered something 
which she ought to come and see, and Robber 
Mother followed him promptly. 

The entire cloister was surrounded by a high 
and strong wall, but the youngster had man- 
aged to find a little back gate which stood 
ajar. When Robber Mother got there, she 

The Legend of the Christmas Rose 111 

pushed tlie gate open and walked inside with- 
out asking leave, as it was her custom to do. 

Ovid Cloister was managed at that time by 
Abbot Hans, who knew all about herbs. Just 
within the cloister wall he had planted a little 
herb garden, and it was into this that the old 
woman had forced her way. 

At first glance Eobber Mother was so aston- 
ished that she paused at the gate. It was high 
summertide, and Abbot Hans' garden was so 
full of flowers that the eyes were fairly daz- 
zled by the blues, reds, and yellows, as one 
looked into it. But presently an indulgent 
smile spread over her features, and she started 
to walk up a narrow path that lay between 
many flower-beds. 

In the garden a lay brother walked about, 
pulling up weeds. It was he who had left the 
door in the wall open, that he might throw the 
weeds and tares on the rubbish heap outside. 

When he saw Robber Mother coming in, with 
all five youngsters in tow, he ran toward her 
at once and ordered them away. But the beg- 
gar woman walked right on as before. She 
cast her eyes up and down, looking now at the 
stiff white lilies which spread near the ground, 

178 Christmas in Legend and Story 

then on the ivy climbing high upon the cloister 
wall, and took no notice whatever of the lay 

He thought she had not understood him, and 
wanted to take her by the arm and turn her 
toward the gate. But when the robber woman 
saw his purpose, she gave him a look that sent 
him reeling backward. She had been walking 
with back bent under her beggar ^s pack, but 
now she straightened herself to her full height. 
* * I am Eobber Mother from Goinge forest ; so 
touch me if you dare! " And it was obvious 
that she was as certain she would be left in 
peace as if she had announced that she was the 
Queen of Denmark. 

And yet the lay brother dared to oppose her, 
although now, when he knew who she was, he 
spoke reasonably to her. '' You must know, 
Eobber Mother, that this is a monks' cloister, 
and no woman in the land is allowed within 
these walls. If you do not go away, the monks 
will be angry with me because I forgot to close 
the gate, and perhaps they will drive me away 
from the cloister and the herb garden." 

But such prayers were wasted on Eobber 
Mother. She walked straight ahead among the 


The Legend of the Christmas Rose 179 

little flower-beds and looked at the hyssop with 
its magenta blossoms, and at the honeysuckles, 
which were full of deep orange-colored flower 

Then the lay brother knew of no other rem- 
edy than to run into the cloister and call for 

He returned with two stalwart monks, and 
Robber Mother saw that now it meant busi- 
ness! With feet firmly planted she stood in 
the path and began shrieking in strident tones 
all the awful vengeance she would wreak on 
the cloister if she couldn't remain in the herb 
garden as long as she wished. But the monks 
did not see why they need fear her and thought 
only of driving her out. Then Robber Mother 
let out a perfect volley of shrieks, and, throw- 
ing hersielf upon the monks, clawed and bit at 
them; so did all the youngsters. The men 
soon learned that she could overpower them, 
and all they could do was to go back into the 
cloister for reinforcements. 

As they ran through the passage-way which 
led to the cloister, they met Abbot Hans, who 
came rushing out to learn what all this noise 
was about. 

180 Christmas in Legend and Story 

Then they had to confess that Eobber 
Mother from Goinge forest had come into the 
cloister and that they were nnable to drive her 
out and must call for assistance. 

But Abbot Hans upbraided them for using 
force and forbade their calling for help. He 
sent both monks back to their work, and al- 
though he was an old and fragile man, he took 
with him only the lay brother. 

When Abbot Hans came out in the garden, 
Eobber Mother was still wandering among the 
flower-beds. He regarded her with astonish- 
ment. He was certain that Robber Mother 
had never before seen an herb garden ; yet she 
sauntered leisurely between all the small 
patches, each of which had been planted with 
its own species of rare flower, and looked 
at them as if they were old acquaintances. 
At some she smiled, at others she shook her 

Abbot Hans loved his herb garden as much 
as it was possible for him to love anything 
earthly and perishable. Wild and terrible as 
the old woman looked, he couldn't help liking 
that she had fought with three monks for the 
privilege of viewing the garden in peace. He 

The Legend of the Christmas Rose 181 

came up to her and asked in a mild tone if the 
garden pleased her. 

Eobber Mother turned defiantly toward 
Abbot Hans, for she expected only to be 
trapped and overpowered. But when she 
noticed his white hair and bent form, she an- 
swered peaceably, '' First, when I saw this, I 
thought I had never seen a prettier garden; 
but now I see that it can't be compared with 
one I know of.'' 

Abbot Hans had certainly expected a differ- 
ent answer. When he heard that Eobber 
Mother had seen a garden more beautiful than 
his, a faint flush spread over his withered 
cheek. The lay brother, who was standing 
close by, immediately began to censure the old 
woman. '' This is Abbot Hans," said he, 
** who with much care and diligence has gath- 
ered the flowers from far and near for his herb 
garden. We all know that there is not a more 
beautiful garden to be found in all Skane, and 
it is not befitting that you, who live in the wild 
forest all the year around, should find fault 
with his work." 

** I don't wish to make myself the judge of 
either him or you," said Eobber Mother. 

182 Christmas in Legend and Story 

*^ I'm only saying that if yon could see the 
garden of which I am thinking yon would up-f 
root all the flowers planted here and cast them 
away like weeds/' 

But the Abbot's assistant was hardly less 
proud of the flowers than the Abbot himself, 
and after hearing her remarks he laughed de- 
risively. ** I can understand that you only 
talk like this to tease us. It must be a pretty 
garden that you have made for yourself 
amongst the pines in Goinge forest! I'd be 
willing to wager my soul's salvation that you 
have never before been within the walls of an 
herb garden." 

Eobber Mother grew crimson with rage to 
think that her word was doubted, and she cried 
out: ** It may be true that until to-day I had 
never been within the walls of an herb garden; 
but you monks, who are holy men, certainly 
must know that on every Christmas Eve the 
great Goinge forest is transformed into a beau- 
tiful garden, to commemorate the hour of our 
Lord's birth. We who live in the forest have 
seen this happen every year. And in that 
garden I have seen flowers so lovely that I 
dared not lift my hand to pluck them." 

The Legend of the Christmas RSse 183 

Tlie lay brother wanted to continue the argu- 
ment, but Abbot Hans gave him a sign to be 
silent. For, ever since his childhood. Abbot 
Hans had heard it said that on every Christ- 
mas Eve the forest was dressed in holiday 
glory. He had often longed to see it, but he 
had never had the good fortune. Eagerly he 
begged and implored Eobber Mother that he 
might come up to the Robbers ' Cave on Christ- 
mas Eve. If she would only send one of her 
children to show him the way, he could ride up 
there alone, and he would never betray them — 
on the contrary, he would reward them, in so 
far as it lay in his power. 

Eobber Mother said no at first, for she was 
thinking of Eobber Father and of the peril 
which might befall him should she permit Ab- 
bot Hans to ride up to their cave. At the 
same time the desire to prove to the monk 
that the garden which she knew was more 
beautiful than his got the better of her, and 
she gave in. 

^* But more than one follower you cannot 
take with you,'' said she, ^^ and you are not to 
waylay us or trap us, as sure as you are a holy 
man. ' ' 

184 Christmas in Legend and Story 

This Abbot Hans promised, and then Eobber 
Mother went her way. Abbot Hans com- 
manded the lay brother not to reveal to a soul 
that which had been agreed upon. He feared 
that the monks, should they learn of his pur- 
pose, would not allow a man of his years to go 
up to the Robbers' Cave. 

Nor did he himself intend to reveal his pro- 
ject to a human being. And then it happened 
that Archbishop Absalon from Lund came to 
Ovid and remained through the night. When 
Abbot Hans was showing him the herb garden, 
he got to thinking of Eobber Mother's visit, 
and the lay brother, who was at work in the 
garden, heard Abbot Hans telling the Bishop 
about Robber Father, who these many years 
had lived as an outlaw in the forest, and asking 
him for a letter of ransom for the man, that he 
might lead an honest life among respectable 
folk. '' As things are now," said Abbot Hans, 
*^ his children are growing up into worse male- 
factors than himself, and you will soon have 
a whole gang of robbers to deal with up there 
in the forest." 

But the Archbishop replied that he did not 
care to let the robber loose among honest folk 

The Legend of the Christmas Rose 185 

in the villages. It would be best for all that he 
remain in the forest. 

Then Abbot Hans grew zealous and told the 
Bishop all about Goinge forest, which, every 
year at Yuletide, clothed itself in summer 
bloom around the Robbers' Cave. '' If these 
bandits are not so bad but that God's glories 
can be made manifest to them, surely we can- 
not be too wicked to experience the same 
blessing. ' ' 

The Archbishop knew how to answer Abbot 
Hans. '^ This much I will promise you. Abbot 
Hans,'' he said, smiling, " that any day you 
send me a blossom from the garden in Goinge 
forest, I will give you letters of ransom for all 
the outlaws you may choose to plead for." 

The lay brother apprehended that Bishop 
Absalon believed as little in this story of 
Robber Mother's as he himself; but Abbot 
Hans perceived nothing of the sort, but 
thanked Absalon for his good promise and 
said that he would surely send him the flower. 

Abbot Hans had his way. And the following 
Christmas Eve he did not sit at home with his 
monks in Ovid Cloister, but was on his way to 

186 Christmas in Legend and Story 

Goinge forest. One of Eobber Mother's wild 
youngsters ran ahead of him, and close behind 
him was the lay brother who had talked with 
Robber Mother in the herb garden. 

Abbot Hans had been longing to make this 
journey, and he was very happy now that it 
had come to pass. But it was a different 
matter with the lay brother who accompanied 
him. Abbot Hans was very dear to him, and 
he would not willingly have allowed another to 
attend him and watch over him; but he didn't 
believe that he should see any Christmas Eve 
garden. He thought the whole thing a snare 
which Robber Mother had, vwith great cunning, 
laid for Abbot Hans, that he might fall into 
her husband's clutches. 

While Abbot Hans was riding toward the 
forest, he saw that everywhere they were pre- 
paring to celebrate Christmas. In every peas- 
ant settlement fires were lighted in the bath- 
house to warm it for the afternoon bathing. 
Great hunks of meat and bread were being 
carried from the larders into the cabins, and 
from the barns came the men with big sheaves 
of straw to be strewn over the floors. 

As he rode by the little country churches, 

The Legend of the Christmas Rose 187 

he observed that each parson, with his sexton, 
was busily engaged in decorating his church; 
and when he came to the road which leads to 
Bosjo Cloister, he observed that all the poor 
of the parish were coming with armfuls of 
bread and long candles, which they had re- 
ceived at the cloister gate. 

When Abbot Hans saw all these Christmas 
preparations, his haste increased. He was 
thinking of the festivities that awaited him, 
which were greater than any the others would 
be privileged to enjoy. 

But the lay brother whined and fretted when 
he saw how they were preparing to celebrate 
Christmas in every humble cottage. He grew 
more and more anxious, and begged and im- 
plored Abbot Hans to turn back and not to 
throw himself deliberately into the robber's 

Abbot Hans went straight ahead, paying no 
heed to his lamentations. He left the plain 
behind him and came up into desolate and wild 
forest regions. Here the road was bad, almost 
like a stony and burr-strewn path, with neither 
bridge nor plank to help them over brooklet 
and rivulet. The farther they rode, the colder 

188 Christmas in Legend and Story 

it grew, and after a while they came upon 
snow-covered ground. 

It turned out to be a long and hazardous 
ride through the forest. They climbed steep 
and slippery side paths, crawled over swamp 
and marsh, and pushed through windfall and 
bramble. Just as daylight was waning, the 
robber boy guided them across a forest 
meadow, skirted by tall, naked leaf trees and 
green fir trees. Back of the meadow loomed 
a mountain wall, and in this wall they saw a 
door of thick boards. Now Abbot Hans under- 
stood that they had arrived, and dismounted. 
The child opened the heavy door for him, and 
he looked into a poor mountain grotto, with 
bare stone walls. Robber Mother was seated 
before a log fire that burned in the middle of 
the floor. Alongside the walls were beds of 
virgin pine and moss, and on one of these beds 
lay Eobber Father asleep. 

** Come in, you out there! " shouted Robber 
Mother without rising, '' and fetch the horses 
in with you, so they won't be destroyed by the 
night cold." 

Abbot Hans walked boldly into the cave, and 
the lay brother followed. Here were wretched- 

The Legend of the Christmas Rose 189 

ness and poverty! and nothing was done to 
celebrate Christmas. Robber Mother had 
neither brewed nor baked; she had neither 
washed nor scoured. The youngsters were ly- 
ing on the floor around a kettle, eating; but 
no better food was provided for them than a 
watery gruel. 

Robber Mother spoke in a tone as haughty 
and dictatorial as any well-to-do peasant 
woman. *' Sit down by the fire and warm 
yourself, Abbot Hans,'' said she; '' and if you 
have food with you, eat, for the food which we 
in the forest prepare you wouldn't care to 
taste. And if you are tired after the long 
journey, you can lie down on one of these beds 
to sleep. You needn't be afraid of oversleep- 
ing, for I'm sitting here by the fire keeping 
watch. I shall awaken you in time to see that 
which you have come up here to see." 

Abbot Hans obeyed Robber Mother and 
brought forth his food sack; but he was so 
fatigued after the journey he was hardly able 
to eat, and as soon as he could stretch himself 
on the bed, he fell asleep. 

The lay brother was also assigned a bed to 
rest upon, but he didn't dare sleep, as he 

190 Christmas in Legend and Story 

thouglit lie had better keep his eye on Eobber 
Father to prevent his getting up and capturing 
Abbot Hans. But gradually fatigue got the 
better of him, too, and he dropped into a doze. 

When he woke up, he saw that Abbot Hans 
had left his bed and was sitting by the fire 
talking with Eobber Mother. The outlawed 
robber sat also by the fire. He was a tall, raw- 
boned man with a dull, sluggish appearance. 
His back was turned to Abbot Hans, as though 
he would have it appear that he was not listen- 
ing to the conversation. 

Abbot Hans was telling Eobber Mother all 
about the Christmas preparations he had seen 
on the journey, reminding her of Christmas 
feasts and games which she must have known 
in her youth, when she lived at peace with man- 
kind. ^^ I'm sorry for your children, who can 
never run on the village street in holiday dress 
or tumble in the Christmas straw,'' said he. 

At first Eobber Mother answered in short, 
gruff sentences, but by degrees she became 
more subdued and listened more intently. 
Suddenly Eobber Father turned toward Abbot 
Hans and shook his clenched fist in his face. 
** You miserable monk! did you come here to 

Tha Legend of the Christmas Rose 191 

coax from me my wife and children? Don't 
you know that I am an outlaw and may not 
leave the forest? '' 

Abbot Hans looked him fearlessly in the 
eyes. ^^ It is my purpose to get a letter of 
ransom for you from Archbishop Absalon," 
said he. He had hardly finished speaking when 
the robber and his wife burst out laughing. 
They knew well enough the kind of mercy a 
forest robber could expect from Bishop Ab- 
salon ! 

^* Oh, if I get a letter of ransom from Ab- 
salon,'' said Robber Father, ^^ then I'll prom- 
ise you that never again will I steal so much 
as a goose." 

The lay brother was annoyed with the robber 
folk for daring to laugh at Abbot Hans, but on 
his own account he was well pleased. He had 
seldom seen the Abbot sitting more peaceful 
and meek with his monks at Ovid than he now 
sat with this wild robber folk. 

Suddenly Robber Mother rose. ^^ You sit 
here and talk. Abbot Hans," she said, ^^ so that 
we are forgetting to look at the forest. Now 
I can hear, even in this cave, how the Christ- 
mas bells are ringing." 

1&2 Christmas in Legend and Story 

The words were baroly uttered when they all 
sprang up and rushed out. But in the forest 
it was still dark night and bleak winter. The 
only thing they marked was a distant clang 
borne on a light south wind. 

** How can this bell ringing ever awaken the 
dead forest! '' thought Abbot Hans. For 
now, as he stood out in the winter darkness, he 
thought it far more impossible that a summer 
garden could spring up here than it had 
seemed to him before. 

When the bells had been ringing a few mo- 
ments, a sudden illumination penetrated the 
forest; the next moment it was dark again, 
and then the light came back. It pushed its 
way forward between the stark trees, like a 
shimmering mist. This much it effected: The 
darkness merged into a faint daybreak. Then 
Abbot Hans saw that the snow had vanished 
from the ground, as if some one had removed 
a carpet, and the earth began to take on a 
green covering. Then the ferns shot up their 
fronds, rolled like a bishop's staff. The 
heather that grew on the stony hills and the 
bog-myrtle rooted in the ground moss dressed 
themselves quickly in new bloom. The moss- 

The Legend of the Christmas Rose 193 

tufts thickened and raised themselves, and the 
spring blossoms shot upward their swelling 
buds, which already had a touch of color. 

Abbot Hans' heart beat fast as he marked 
the first signs of the forest's awakening. 
** Old man that I am, shall I behold such a 
miracle? '' thought he, and the tears wanted 
to spring to his eyes. Again it grew so hazy 
that he feared the darkness would once more 
cover the earth; but almost immediately there 
came a new wave of light. It brought with it 
the splash of rivulet and the rush of cataract. 
Then the leaves of the trees burst into bloom, 
as if a swarm of green butterflies came flying 
and clustered on the branches. It was not only 
trees and plants that awoke, but crossbeaks 
hopped from branch to branch, and the wood- 
peckers hammered on the limbs until the splin- 
ters fairly flew around them. A flock of star- 
lings from up country lighted in a fir top to 
rest. They were paradise starlings. The tips 
of each tiny feather shone in brilliant reds, 
and, as the birds moved, they glittered like so 
many jewels. 

Again, all was dark for an instant, but soon 
there came a new light wave. A fresh, warm 

194 Christmas in Legend and Story 

south wind blew and scattered over the forest 
meadow all the little seeds that had been 
brought here from southern lands by birds and 
ships and winds, and which could not thrive 
elsewhere because of this country's cruel cold. 
These took root and sprang up the instant they 
touched the ground. 

When the next warm wind came along, the 
blueberries and lignon ripened. Cranes and 
wild geese shrieked in the air, the bullfinches 
built nests, and the baby squirrels began play- 
ing on the branches of the trees. 

Everything came so fast now that Abbot 
Hans could not stop to reflect on how immeas- 
urably great was the miracle that was taking 
place. He had time only to use his eyes and 
ears. The next light wave that came rushing 
in brought with it the scent of newly ploughed 
acres, and far off in the distance the milkmaids 
were heard coaxing the cows — and the tinkle 
of the sheep's bells. Pine and spruce trees 
were so thickly clothed with red cones that 
they shone like crimson mantles. The juniper 
berries changed color every second, and forest 
flowers covered the ground till it was all red, 
blue, and yellow. 

The Legend of f - Christmas Rose 195 

Abbot Hans bent down to the earth and 
broke off a wild strawberry blossom, and, as 
he straightened up, the berry ripened in his 

The mother fox came out of her lair with a 
big litter of black-legged young. She went up 
to Robber Mother and scratched at her skirt, 
and Robber Mather bent down to her and 
praised her young. The horned owl, who had 
just begun his night chase, was astonished at 
the light and went back to his ravine to perch 
for the night. The male cuckoo crowed, and 
his mate stole up to the nests of the little birds 
with her egg in her mouth. 

Robber Mother's youngsters let out perfect 
shrieks of delight. They stuffed themselves 
with wild strawberries that hung on the 
bushes, large as pine cones. One of them 
played with a litter of young hares; another 
ran a race with some young crows, which had 
hopped from their nest before they were really 
ready; a third caught up an adder from the 
ground and wound it around his neck and 

Robber Father was standing out on a marsh 
eating raspberries. When he glanced up, a 

196 Christmas in Legend and Story 

big black bear stood beside him. Robber 
Father broke off an osier twig and struck the 
bear on the nose. ' ^ Keep to your own ground, 
you! '' he said; *^ this is my turf.'' Then the 
huge bear turned around and lumbered off in 
another direction. 

New waves of warmth and light kept coming, 
and now they brought with them seeds from 
the star-flower. Golden pollen from rye fields 
fairly flew in the air. Then came butterflies, 
so big that they looked like flying lilies. The 
bee-hive in a hollow oak was already so full of 
honey that it dripped down on the trunk of the 
tree. Then all the flowers whose seeds had 
been brought from foreign lands began to 
blossom. The loveliest roses climbed up the 
mountain wall in a race with the blackberry 
vines, and from the forest meadow sprang 
flowers as large as human faces. 

Abbot Hans thought of the flower he was to 
pluck for Bishop Absalon ; but each new flower 
that appeared was more beautiful than the 
others, and he wanted to choose the most beau- 
tiful of all. 

Wave upon wave kept coming until the air 
was so filled with light that it glittered. All 

The Legend of the Christmas Rose 197 

the life and beauty and joy of summer smiled 
on Abbot Hans. He felt that earth could bring 
no greater happiness than that which welled 
up about him, and he said to himself, ^^ I do 
not know what new beauties the next wave 
that comes can bring with it.'^ 

But ihe light kept streaming in, and now it 
seemed to Abbot Hans that it carried with it 
something from an infinite distance. He felt 
a celestial atmosphere enfolding him, and 
tremblingly he began to anticipate, now that 
earth's joys had come, the glories of heaven 
were approaching. 

Then Abbot Hans marked how all grew still ; 
the birds hushed their songs, the flowers ceased 
growing, and the young foxes played no more. 
The glory now nearing was such that the heart 
wanted to stop beating; the eyes wept without 
one 's knowing it ; the soul longed to soar away 
into the Eternal. From far in the distance 
faint harp tones were heard, and celestial song, 
like a soft murmur, reached him. 

Abbot Hans clasped his hands and dropped 
to his knees. His face was radiant with bliss. 
Never had he dreamed that even in this life it 
should be granted him to taste the joys of 

198 Christmas in Legend and Story^ 

heaven, and to hear angels sing Christmas 
carols ! 

But beside Abbot Hans stood the lay brother 
who had accompanied him. In his mind there 
were dark thoughts. '' This cannot be a true 
miracle," he thought, '' since it is revealed to 
malefactors. This does not come from God, 
but has its origin in witchcraft and is sent 
hither by Satan. It is the Evil One^s power 
that is tempting us and compelling us to see 
that which has no real existence.'^ 

From afar were heard the sound of angel 
harps and the tones of a Miserere. But the lay 
brother thought it was the evil spirits of hell 
coming closer. '' They would enchant and se- 
duce us," sighed he, '' and we shall be sold into 
perdition. ' ' 

The angel throng was so near now that 
Abbot Hans saw their bright forms through 
the forest branches. The lay brother sa^ 
them, too ; but back of all this wondrous beauty 
he saw only some dread evil. For him it was 
the devil who performed these wonders on the 
anniversary of our Saviour's birth. It was 
done simply for the purpose of more effec- 
tually deluding poor human beings. 

The Legend of the Christmas Rose 199 

All the while the birds had been circling 
around the head of Abbot Hans, and they let 
him take them in his hands. But all the ani- 
mals were afraid of the lay brother; no bird 
perched on his shoulder, no snake played at 
his feet. Then there came a little forest dove. 
When she marked that the angels were near- 
ing, she plucked up courage and flew down on 
the lay brother's shoulder and laid her head 
against his cheek. 

Then it appeared to him as if sorcery were 
come right upon him, to tempt and corrupt 
him. He struck with his hand at the forest 
dove and cried in such a loud voice that it rang 
throughout the forest, ^' Go thou back to hell, 
whence thou art come! " 

Just then the angels were so near that Abbot 
Hans felt the feathery touch of their great 
wings, and he bowed down to earth in reverent 

But when the lay brother's words sounded, 
their song was hushed and the holy guests 
turned in flight. At the same time the light 
and the mild warmth vanished in unspeakable 
terror for the darkness and cold in a human 
heart. Darkness sank over the earth, like a 

200 Christmas in Legend and Story 

coverlet ; frost came, all tlie growths shrivelled 
up ; the animals and birds hastened away ; the 
rushing of streams was hushed; the leaves 
dropped from the trees, rustling like rain. 

Abbot Hans felt how his heart, which had 
but lately swelled with bliss, was now contract- 
ing with insufferable agony. '^ I can never 
outlive this,'' thought he, ** that the angels 
from heaven had been so close to me and were 
driven away; that they wanted to sing Christ- 
mas carols for me and were driven to flight." 

Then he remembered the flower he had prom- 
ised Bishop Absalon, and at the last moment 
he fumbled among the leaves and moss to try 
and find a blossom. But he sensed how the 
ground under his fingers froze and how the 
white snow came gliding over the ground. 
Then his heart caused him ever greater an- 
guish. He could not rise, but fell prostrate 
on the ground and lay there. 

When the robber folk and the lay brother 
had groped their way back to the cave, they 
missed Abbot Hans. They took brands with 
them and went out to search for him. They 
found him dead upon the coverlet of snow. 

Then the lay brother began weeping and la- 

The Legend of the Christmas Rose 201 

meriting, for he understood that it was he who 
had killed Abbot Hans because he had dashed 
from him the cup of happiness which he had 
been thirsting to drain to its last drop. 

When Abbot Hans had been carried down to 
Ovid, those who took charge of the dead saw 
that he held his right hand locked tight around 
something which he must have grasped at the 
moment of death. When they finally got his 
hand open, they found that the thing which he 
had held in such an iron grip was a pair of 
white root bulbs, which he had torn from 
among the moss and leaves. 

When the lay brother who had accompanied 
Abbot Hans saw the bulbs, he took them and 
planted them in Abbot Hans' herb garden. 

He guarded them the whole year to see if 
any flower would spring from them. But in 
vain he waited through the spring, the sum- 
mer, and the autumn. Finally, when winter 
had set in and all the leaves and the flowers 
were dead, he ceased caring for them. 

But when Christmas Eve came again, he was 
so strongly reminded of Abbot Hans that he 
wandered out into the garden to think of him. 

202 Christmas in Legend and Story 

And look ! as lie came to the spot where he had 
planted the bare root bulbs, he saw that from 
them had sprung flourishing green stalks, 
which bore beautiful flowers with silver white 

He called out all the monks at Ovid, and 
when they saw that this plant bloomed on 
Christmas Eve, when all the other growths 
were as if dead, they understood that this 
flower had in truth been plucked by Abbot 
Hans from the Christmas garden in Goinge 
forest. Then the lay brother asked the monks 
if he might take a few blossoms to Bishop 

And when he appeared before Bishop Ab- 
salon, he gave him the flowers and said: 
** Abbot Hans sends you these. They are the 
flowers he promised to pick for you from the 
garden in Goinge forest.'' 

When Bishop Absalon beheld the flowers, 
which had sprung from the earth in darkest 
winter, and heard the words, he turned as pale 
as if he had met a ghost. He sat in silence 
a moment; thereupon he said, '^ Abbot Hans 
has faithfully kept his word and I shall also 
keep mine.'' And he ordered that a letter of 

The Legend of the Christmas Rose 203 

ransom be drawn up for the wild robber who 
was outlawed and had been forced to live in 
the forest ever since his youth. 

He handed the letter to the lay brother, who 
departed at once for the Eobbers ' Cave. When 
he stepped in there on Christmas Day, the 
robber came toward him with axe uplifted. 
*^ I'd like to hack you monks into bits, as many 
as you are ! ' ' said he. * * It must be your fault 
that Goinge forest did not last night dress 
itself in Christmas bloom.'' 

*^ The fault is mine alone," said the lay 
brother, * * and I will gladly die for it ; but first 
I must deliver a message from Abbot Hans." 
And he drew forth the Bishop's letter and told 
the man that he was free. ^* Hereafter you 
and your children shall play in the Christmas 
straw and celebrate your Christmas among 
people, just as Abbot Hans wished to have it," 
said he. 

Then Eobber Father stood there pale and 
speechless, but Robber Mother said in his 
name, ** Abbot Hans has indeed kept his word, 
and Robber Father will keep his." 

When the robber and his wife left the cave, 
the lay brother moved in and lived all alone in 

204 Christmas in Legend and Story 

the forest, in constant meditation and prayer 
that his hard-heartedness might be forgiven 

But Goinge forest never again celebrated the 
hour of our Saviour's birth; and of all its 
glory, there lives to-day only the plant which 
Abbot Hans had plucked. It has been named 
CHRISTMAS EOSE. And each year at 
Christmastide she sends forth from the earth 
her green stalks and white blossoms, as if she 
never could forget that she had once grown in 
the great Christmas garden at Goinge forest. 


EvALEEN Stein 

A veey long while ago, perhaps as many as 
two hundred years, the little Provengal village 
of Sur Varne was all bustle and stir, for it was 
the week before Christmas ; and always, in all 
the world, no one has known better how to keep 
the joyous holiday than have the happy- 
hearted people of Provence, the southeastern 
corner of France. 

Everybody was busy, hurrying to and fro, 
gathering garlands of myrtle and laurel, bring- 
ing home their Yule logs with pretty old songs 
and ceremonies, and in various ways making 
ready for the all-important festival. 

Not a house in Sur Varne but in some man- 
ner told the coming of the blessed birthday, 
and especially were there great preparations 
in the cottage of the shepherd, Pere Michaud. 
This cottage, covered with white stucco, and 
thatched with long marsh-grass, stood at the 


206 Christmas in Legend and Story 

edge of the village; olive and mulberry trees 
clustered about it, and a wild jasmine vine 
clambered over the doorway, while on this par- 
ticular morning all around the low projecting 
eaves hung a row of tiny wheat-sheaves, 
swinging in the crisp December air, and 
twinkling in the sunlight like a golden fringe. 
For the Pere Michaud had been up betimes, 
making ready the Christmas feast for the 
birds, which no Provengal peasant ever forgets 
at this gracious season; and the birds knew 
it, for already dozens of saucy robins and lin- 
nets and fieldfares were gathering in the Pere 's 
mulberry-trees, their mouths fairly watering 
with anticipation. 

Within the cottage the good dame, the Mise 
Michaud, with wide sleeves rolled up and kirtle 
tucked back, was hard at work making all 
manner of savory goodies, while in the huge 
oven beside the blazing hearth the great 
Christmas cakes were baking, the famous 
pompou and fougasse, as they were called, 
dear to the hearts of the children of old Pro- 

Now and then, as the cottage door swung 
open on the dame's various cookery errands. 

Feliiv 207 

one might hear a faint * ^ Baa, baa I ' ' from the 
sheepfold, where little Felix Michaud was very 
busy also. 

Through the crevices of its weather-beaten 
boards came the sound of vigorous scrubbing 
of wool, and sometimes an impatient ^* Ni- 
nette ! Ninette ! — thou silly sheep ! Wilt thou 
never stand still? '' Or else, in a softer tone, 
an eager *^ Beppo, my little Beppo, dost thou 
know? Dost thou know? " To all of which 
there would come no answer save the lamb's 
weak little ** Baa, baa! " 

For Ninette, Beppo 's mother, was a silly old 
sheep, and Beppo was a very young little lamb, 
and so they could not possibly be expected to 
know what a great honor had suddenly befallen 
them. They did not dream that, the night 
before, Pere Michaud had told Felix that his 
Beppo (for Beppo was Felix's very own) had 
been chosen by the shepherds for the '' offered 
lamb '' of the Christmas Eve procession in all 
its festival splendor in the great church of the 

Of the importance of this procession in the 
eyes of the peasant folk I will tell you more 
by and by; it is enough to say now that to be 

208 Christmas in Legend and Story 

the offered lamb, or indeed the offered lamb's 
mother, for both always went together, was the 
greatest honor and glory that could possibly 
happen to a Provengal sheep, and so little 
Felix was fairly bursting with pride and de- 
light. And so it was, too, that he was now 
busying himself washing their wool, which he 
determined should shine like spun silver on the 
great night. 

He tugged away, scrubbing and brushing and 
combing the thick fleeces, and at last, after 
much labor, considered their toilets done for 
the day; then, giving each a handful of fresh 
hay to nibble, he left the fold and trudged into 
the cottage. 

^'Well, little one,'' said the Mise, ^^ hast 
thou finished thy work? " 

** Yes, mother," answered Felix; ^* and I 
shall scrub them so each day till the holy 
night ! Even now Ninette is white as milk, and 
Beppo shines like an angel ! Ah, but I shall be 
proud when he rides up to the altar in his little 
cart! And, mother, dost thou not really think 
him far handsomer than was Jean's lamb, that 
stupid Nano, in the procession last year? " 

** There, there," said the Mise, ** never thou 

FeliiV 209 

mind about Jean's lamb, but ruQ along now 
and finish thy creche.'' 

Now, in Provence, at the time when Felix 
lived, no one had ever heard of such a thing 
as a Christmas tree; but in its stead every 
cottage had a ^^ creche "; that is, in one corner 
of the great living-room, the room of the fire- 
place, the peasant children and their fathers 
and mothers built up on a table a mimic village 
of Bethlehem, with houses and people and ani- 
mals, and, above all, with the manger, where 
the Christ Child lay. Everyone took the great- 
est pains to make the creche as perfect as pos- 
sible, and some even went so far as to fasten 
tiny angels to the rafters, so that they hovered 
over the toy houses like a flock of white butter- 
flies; and sometimes a gold star, hung on a 
golden thread, quivered over the little man- 
ger, in memory of the wonderful star of the 

In the Michaud cottage the creche was al- 
ready well under way. In the corner across 
from the fireplace the Pere had built up a 
mound, and this Felix had covered with bits of 
rock and tufts of grass, and little green boughs 
for trees, all to represent the rocky hillside of 

210 Christmas in Legend and Story 

Judea; then, half-way up, he began to place 
the tiny houses. These he had cut out of wood 
and adorned with wonderful carving, in which, 
indeed, he was very skilful. And then, such 
figures as he had made, such quaint little men 
and women, such marvelous animals, camels 
and oxen and sheep and horses, were never 
before seen in Sur Yarne. But the figure on 
which he had lavished his utmost skill was that 
of the little Christ Child, which was not to be 
placed in the manger until Christmas night 

Felix kept this figure in his blouse pocket, 
carefully wrapped up in a bit of wool, and he 
spent all his spare moments striving to give it 
some fresh beauty ; for I will tell you a secret : 
poor little Felix had a great passion for carv- 
ing, and the one thing for which he longed 
above all others was to be allowed to appren- 
tice himself in the workshop of Pere Videau, 
who was the master carver of the village, and 
whose beautiful work on the portals of the 
great church was the admiration of Felix's 
heart. He longed, too, for better tools than 
the rude little knife he had, and for days and 
years in which to learn to use them. 

Felix 211 

But the Pere Midland had scant patience 
with these notions of the little son's, and once, 
when Felix had ventured to speak to him about 
it, had insisted rather sharply that he was to 
stick to his sheep-tending, so that when the 
Pere himself grew old he could take charge of 
the flocks and keep the family in bread; for 
the Pere had small faith in the art of the carver 
as being able to supply the big brown loaves 
that the Mise baked every week in the great 
stone oven. So Felix was obliged to go on 
minding the flocks; but whenever he had a 
moment of his own, he employed it in carving 
a bit of wood or chipping at a fragment of soft 

But while I have stopped to tell you all this 
he had almost finished the creche; the little 
houses were all in place, and the animals 
grouped about the holy stable, or else seeming 
to crop the tufts of moss on the mimic rocky 

'' Well, well! '' said the Pere Michaud, who 
had just entered the cottage, '* 't is a fine bit 
of work thou hast there, my son! Truly 't is 
a brave creche! " 

But here the Mise called them both to the 

212 Christmas in Legend and Story 

midday meal, which she had spread smoking 
hot on the shining deal table. 

When this was finished Felix arose, and, as 
the Pere wished, once more went out to the 
fold to see how the sheep, and especially his 
little Beppo, were faring. 

As he pushed open the swinging door, Ni- 
nette, who was lazily dozing with her toes 
doubled np under her fleece, blinked her eyes 
and looked sleepily around; but Beppo was 
nowhere to be seen. 

' ' Ninette ! ' ^ demanded Felix fiercely, 
'^ what hast thou done with my Beppo? '* 

At this Ninette peered about in a dazed sort 
of way, and gave an alarmed little '^ Baa! '* 
for she had not before missed Beppo, who, 
while she was asleep, had managed to push 
open the door of the fold and scamper off, no 
one knew just where. 

Felix gazed around in dismay when he real- 
ized that his lamb, the chosen one, who had 
brought such pride and honor to him — that 
this was gone ! 

^^ Beppo!" he shouted at the top of his 
lungs, '^ Beppo! Beppo-o! " 

But no trace could he see of the little bundle 

Felia; 213 

of fleece lie had scrubbed and combed so care- 
fully that morning. 

He stood irresolute a moment; then, think- 
ing that if Beppo really were running off, not 
a second was to be lost, he set out at a brisk 
pace across the sheep-meadow. He had no 
idea in what direction the truant lamb would 
be likely to stray, but on he went, calling every 
little while in a shrill voice, ^ * Beppo ! ' ' Now 
and then he fancied that he saw in the distance 
a glimpse of white; but once it proved the 
Mise Fouchard's linen hung to dry on a cur- 
rant-bush, and again it was a great white stone 
— but no Beppo; and all the while Felix kept 
on, quite forgetting that Beppo 's weak, woolly 
legs could not possibly have carried him so 
great a distance. 

By and by he had left the village meadows 
far behind, and was skirting the great marsh. 
Sometimes he shaded his eyes with his hand 
and looked far across this low wet land to see 
if perhaps Beppo had strayed into its uncer- 
tain foothold ; but nothing could he see but the 
waving rushes and the tall bitterns wading 
about on long, yellow legs. 

And still he pressed heedlessly on farther 

214 Christmas in Legend and Story 

and farther, till, after a while, he found him- 
self thrusting through a thick coppice of wil- 
low boughs. ^* Oh,*' thought Felix, " what if 
poor Beppo has strayed into this woodland! " 
And tired as he was, he urged himself on, 
searching among the trees; and it was not 
until he had wandered on and on, deeper and 
deeper into the wood, that he realized that the 
dusk had fallen, and that he must be a very, 
very long way from Sur Varne. 

Felix then began to grow uneasy. He stood 
still and looked anxiously about him; the dark 
forest trees closed around him on all sides, and 
he was quite unable to remember from which 
direction he had entered the wood. 

Now, Felix was really a very brave little 
fellow, but he fairly quaked as he peered 
through the gathering darkness; for in those 
days the forests of Provence were known to 
harbor many dangerous animals, especially 
wild boars and wolves. He pricked up his ears, 
and now and then thought he heard in the dis- 
tance the stealthy tread of some four-footed 
forest prowler, and once he was sure he caught 
the deep howl of a wolf. 

That ended his hesitation. He looked 

Felix 215 

quickly around, and grasping the low boughs 
of a slender sapling, managed to swing himself 
up into a tall chestnut-tree that grew close 
by; and there he clung, clutching the thick 
branches with might and main, feeling very 
cold and hungry and miserable, his heart all 
the while sinking clear down into his little 
peasant shoes. 

And indeed he had cause for fear, for, not 
a great while after he had thus hidden himself, 
a gaunt wolf really did pass close by, sniffing 
and peering, till poor Felix fairly gave up all 
hope of escaping from the tree; but, luckily, 
the wolf did not see him, and at last slowly 
crept on through the underwood. 

How long the little boy stayed in the peril- 
ous shelter of the chestnut-tree he never knew, 
but it seemed untold ages to him. After a 
while the moon rose, and shed a faint light 
through the close-lapping branches; and then, 
by and by, Felixes ears, strained to listen for 
every lightest sound, caught the echo of distant 
tramping, as of horses' hoofs, and presently 
two horsemen came in sight, picking their 
way cautiously along a narrow bridle-path. 

He did not know whom they might prove to 

216 Christmas in Legend and Story 

be, but wisely thinking that anything would be 
better than staying in a tree all night at the 
mercy of hungry wolves, he waited till the first 
rider came quite close, and then he plucked up 
courage to call out faintly: ** Oh, sir, stop, I 
pray thee ! ' ' 

At this, the rider, who was none other than 
the noble Count Bernard of Bois Varne, 
quickly drew rein and, turning, called to his 
companion : 

*^ Ho, Brian! Heardest thou aught! " 

^' Nay, my lord,'' answered Brian, who was 
some paces behind, '^ naught save the tram- 
pling of our own horses' hoofs." 

The count looked all around, and seeing 
nothing, thought himself mistaken in the 
sound, and began to pace on. Then Felix, in 
terror, gave another shout, this time louder, 
and at the same moment a little twig he was 
pressing with his elbow broke away and 
dropped, striking against the count's stirrup; 
for the bridle-path wound directly under the 
tree where Felix was perched. 

The count instantly checked his horse again, 
and, peering up into the boughs overhead, he 
caught sight of Felix, his yellow hair wet with 

Felix 217 

dew and shining in the moonlight, and his dark 
eyes wide with fear. 

' ' Heigh-ho ! ' ' exclaimed the count, in blank 
amazement. ^* Upon my word, now! what art 
thou — boy or goblin? '^ 

At this Felix gave a little sob, for he was 
very tired and very cold. He hugged the tree 
tightly, and, steadying himself against the 
boughs, at last managed to falter out : ' ' Please 
thee, sir, I am Felix Michaud, and my lamb 
Beppo, who was to ride in the Christmas pro- 
cession, ran off to-day, and — and — I have 
been hunting him, I think, ever since — since 
yesterday! '' Here poor Felix grew a trifle be- 
wildered; it seemed to him so very long ago 
since he had set out in search of Beppo. * * And 
I live in Sur Varne." 

At this the count gave a long whistle. '* At 
Sur Varne! '' he exclaimed. '^ If thou speak- 
est truly, my little man, thou hast indeed a 
sturdy pair of legs to have carried thee thus 
far.'* And he eyed curiously Felix's dusty 
little feet and leathern leggings, dangling 
limply from the bough above him. '' Dost 
thou know how far distant is Sur Varne from 
this forest? " 

218 Christmas in Legend and Story 

** Nay, sir/^ answered Felix; '' but I trow 
't is a great way. ' ' 

a There thou art right," said the count; 
* * 't is a good two leagues, if it is a pace. But 
how now? Thou canst not bide here to become 
the prey of hungry wolves, my little night-owl 
9f the yellow hair! '' 

And thereupon Count Bernard dexterously 
raised himself in his stirrups, and, reaching 
upward, caught Felix in his arms and swung 
him down plump on the saddle-bow in front of 
him; then, showing him how to steady himself 
by holding the pommel, he turned to Brian, his 
squire, who while all this was going on had 
stood by in silent astonishment, and giving the 
order to move, the little cavalcade hastened on 
at a rapid pace in order to get clear of the for- 
est as quickly as possible. 

Meantime the Count Bernard, who was really 
a very kind and noble lord, and who lived in a 
beautiful castle on the farther verge of the for- 
est, quite reassured Felix by talking to him 
kindly, and telling him of the six days' journey 
from which he and his squire Brian were just 
returning, and how they had been delayed on 
the way until nightfall. 

Felix 219 

** And, by my faith! '' said Count Bernard, 
*^ thou shalt sleep this night in the strong 
castle of Bois Varne, with not even a mouse to 
fret thy yellow head; and, what is more, thou 
shalt see the fairest little maid that ever thou 
hast set eyes on! '' 

And then he told him of his little daughter, 
the Lady Elinor, and how she would play with 
Felix and show him the castle, and how on the 
morrow they would see about sending him 
home to Sur Varne. 

And all the while the count was talking they 
were trotting briskly onward, till by and by 
they emerged from the forest and saw tower- 
ing near at hand the castle of Bois Varne. The 
tall turrets shone and shimmered in the moon- 
light, and over the gateway of the drawbridge 
hung a lighted cresset — that is, a beautiful 
wrought-iron basket, in which blazed a ruddy 
torch of oil to light them on their way. 

At sight of this the count and Brian spurred 
on their horses, and were soon clattering across 
the bridge and into the great paved courtyard. 
The count flung his bridle to a little page who 
hastened out to meet him, and then, springing 
from his saddle, lightly lifted Felix and swung 

220 Christmas in Legend and Story 

him to the ground. He took the boy by the 
hand and led him into the great hall of the 

To Felix this looked marvelously beautiful. 
Christmas garlan-ds of myrtle hung on the 
walls, and a great pile of freshly cut laurel 
boughs lay on a bench, ready for the morrow's 
arranging. But that which took his eyes most 
of all was the lovely carving everywhere to be 
seen. The benches and tables were covered 
with it ; the wainscot of the spacious room was 
richly adorned; and over and about the wide 
fireplace great carved dragons of stone curled 
their long tails and spread their wings through 
a maze of intricate traceries. Felix was en- 
chanted, and gazed around till his eyes fairly 

Presently in came running a little girl, laugh- 
ing with delight. Bounding up into Count 
Bernard's arms, she hugged and kissed him in 
true Provengal fashion. Then, catching sight 
of Felix, *^ Ah, mon pere,'' she exclaimed, 
^* and where foundest thou thy pretty new 
page? '' 

** Nay, sweetheart," answered the count, 
looking down at Felix's yellow hair; ** 't is no 

Felix 221 

page, but a little goldfinch we found perched 
in a chestnut-tree as we rode through the 
forest. ' ^ 

Then, smiling at the Lady Elinor's bewilder- 
ment, he told her the little boy's story, and she 
at once slipped down and greeted him kindly. 
Then, clapping her hands with pleasure at find- 
ing a new playmate, she declared he must come 
and see the Christmas creche which she was 
just finishing. She seized him by the hand and 
hastened across the hall, where her creche was 
built up on a carved bench. The poor little 
Lady Elinor had no mother, and her father, the 
count, had been gone for several days; and 
while in the castle were no end of serving men 
and women and retainers, yet none of these 
presumed to dictate to the little mistress, and 
so she had put her creche together in a very 
odd fashion. 

** There!" said she, ''what thinkest thou 
of it, Felix? Of a truth, I fancy somewhat is 
wanting, yet I know not how to better it! " 

*' Yes," said Felix, bashfully; '' it may be 
I can help thee." 

And so he set to work rearranging the little 
houses and figures, till he succeeded in giving 

222 Christmas in Legend and Story 

quite a lifelike air to the creche, and Lady 
Elinor fairly danced with delight. 

While placing the little manger he happened 
to remember the figure of the Christ Child still 
in his blouse pocket; this he timidly took out 
and showed the little girl, who was charmed, 
and still more so when he drew forth a small 
wooden sheep and a dog, which were also in 
the same pocket. 

The Lady Elinor was so carried away with 
joy that she flew to the side of the count, and, 
grasping both his hands, dragged him across 
the room to show him the creche and the won- 
derful figures carved by Felix. 

*^ See, mon pere! " said Elinor, ^* see this, 
and this ! ' ' And she held up the little carvings 
for the count's inspection. 

Count Bernard, who had good-naturedly 
crossed the room to please his little daughter, 
now opened his eyes wide with surprise. He 
took the little figures she handed him and ex- 
amined them closely, for he was a good judge 
of artistic work of this kind. Then he looked 
at Felix, and at length he said: 

** Well, little forest bird, who taught thee 
the carver's craft? '' 

Felia^ 223 

** No one, sir," faltered Felix; ^* indeed, I 
wish, above all things, to learn of the Pere 
Videau, the master carver ; but my father says 
I must be a shepherd, as he is/' 

Here a tear rolled down Felix's cheek, for 
you must remember he was terribly tired. 

*^ Well, well," said the count, ^* never mind! 
Thou art weary, little one ; we will talk of this 
more on the morrow. 'T is high time now that 
both of you were sound asleep. Hey, there! 
Jean! Jacques! Come hither and take care 
of this little lad, and see to it that he hath a 
soft bed and a feather pillow ! ' ' 

The next morning the children ate a merry 
breakfast together, and after it Count Bernard 
took Felix aside and asked him many questions 
of his life and his home. Then, by and by, 
knowing how anxious the boy's parents would 
be, he ordered his trusty squire, Brian, to 
saddle a horse and conduct Felix back to Sur 

Meantime the little Lady Elinor begged hard 
that he stay longer in the castle for her play- 
fellow, and was quite heartbroken when she 
saw the horse stand ready in the courtyard. 
Indeed, she would not be satisfied until her 

224 Christmas in Legend and Story 

father, the count, who could not bear to see 
her unhappy, had promised to some day take 
her over to see Felix in Sur Varne. Then she 
smiled, and made a pretty farewell courtesy, 
and suddenly snatching from her dark hair a 
crimson ribbon of Lyons taifeta, she tied it 
about Felix's sleeve, declaring, " There! thou 
must keep this token, and be my little knight ! ' ' 
for the Lady Elinor had many lofty notions in 
her small curly head. 

Felix could only stammer out an embar- 
rassed good-by, for in the presence of this 
lively little maid he found himself quaking 
more than when he feared the terrible wolves 
of the forest. In another moment Brian lifted 
him to the saddle, and, springing up behind, 
took the bridle-rein, and off they went. 

When, after several hours' riding, they drew 
near Sur Varne, Felix showed Brian the way 
to the Michaud cottage, and you can fancy how 
overjoyed were the Pere and Mise to see the 
travelers; for they had been fairly beside 
themselves with grief, and had searched all 
night for their little son. 

Of course almost the first question Felix 
asked was about Beppo, and he felt a great 

Felia^ 225 

load taken off his mind when he learned that 
the little truant, who had not really strayed 
very far from the village, had been found and 
brought home by one of the shepherds, and was 
even then penned up safe and sound in the 

After a good night ^s sleep Felix was quite 
rested from his journey, and was busy the next 
day in helping garland the Yule log, in giving 
Ninette and Beppo an extra scrubbing and 
brushing, and in all the final happy prepara- 
tions for the great holiday. 

And so Christmas Eve came. It was a lovely 
starlit night, and on, all sides one could hear 
the beautiful Christmas songs of old Provence 
that all the peasants and the children sang as 
they trooped along the roads on their way to 
the great church of the village; for thither 
every one flocked as the expected hour drew 

Then presently the stately service began, 
and went on with song and incense, and the 
sweet chanting of children's voices, till sud- 
denly from the upper tower of the church a 
joyous peal of bells rang in the midnight ! And 
all at once, through the dense throng of wor- 

226 Christmas in Legend and Story 

shipers nearest the door a pathway opened, 
and in came four peasants playing on pipes 
and flutes and flageolets a quaint old air made 
up three hundred years before by good King 
Eene for just such a ceremony as was to 

After the pipers walked ten shepherds, two 
by two, each wearing a long brown cloak, and 
carrying a staif and lighted candle ; that is, all 
save the first two, and these bore, one a basket 
of fruit, the melons and grapes and pears of 
sunny Provence, while the other held in his 
hands a pair of pretty white pigeons with rose- 
colored eyes and soft, fluttering wings. 

And then, behind the shepherds came — what 
do you suppose! — Ninette! Ninette, her 
fleece shining like snow, a garland of laurel 
and myrtle about her neck, and twigs of holly 
nodding behind her ears, while bound about her 
woolly shoulders a little harness of scarlet 
leather shone against the white with dazzling 
effect; and fastened to the harness, and trun- 
dling along at Ninette's heels, came the gayest 
of little wooden carts. It was painted in the 
brightest colors. Its wheels were wrapped with 
garlands, and in it, curled up in a fat fleecy 

Felia^ 227 

ball, lay Beppo ! Tied about his neck in a huge 
bow was a crimson ribbon of Lyons taffeta, 
with a sprig of holly tucked into its loops. 

Beppo lay quite still, looking about him with 
a bewildered, half-dazed expression, and just 
behind his cart came ten more shepherds with 
staffs and candles, while following them was a 
great throng of peasant folk and children 
(among them Felix), all carrying lighted ta- 
pers, and radiant with delight; for this was 
the Procession of the Offered Lamb, and to 
walk in its train was considered by all as the 
greatest honor and privilege. 

And especially did the shepherd folk love 
the beautiful old custom which for centuries 
the people of Provence had cherished from year 
to year in memory of the time, long ago, when 
the real Christ Child lay in the manger of 
Bethlehem, and the shepherds of Judea sought 
him out to worship him, and to offer him their 
fruits and lambs as gifts. 

And so on up the long aisle the procession 
slowly moved, the pipers playing, and Ninette 
marching solemnly along, only now and then 
pausing to thrust her nose between the Pere 
Michaud and his companion, who walked di 

228 Christmas in Legend and Story 

rectly in front of her. Ninette pattered on as 
if she had trod the floors of churches all her 
life; and as for Beppo, only once did he stir, 
and then he gave a faint ** Baa! '^ and tried 
to uncnrl himself and stand up; but just then 
the queer little cart gave a joggle which quite 
upset his shaky lamb legs, and down he sank, 
and kept quiet throughout the rest of the time. 

After the service the players again struck 
up King Eene's tune, and the procession, shep- 
herds, Ninette, Beppo, peasants, and all, once 
more moved on, this time down the outer aisle 
and toward the great open portal. _^^ 

It took some time for the last of its followers 
to reach the doorway, for the throng was very 
great; but at length Felix, who had marched 
with the children in the last group, came to the 
threshold and stepped out into the starry night. 

He stood for a moment smiling and gazing 
aimlessly ahead, overwhelmed with the glory 
of all that had passed within the church, when 
presently he felt some one pluck his sleeve, and 
turning round, he met the dancing eyes of the 
little Lady Elinor. 

She gave a little peal of laughter at his sur- 
prise, and exclaimed : ^ * Oh, I coaxed mon pere, 

Felix 229 

the count, to fetch me hither for this blessed 
night. Thou knowest he promised ! I rode my 
white palfrey all the way by the side of his big 
brown horse. And I have seen the procession, 
and Beppo with my red ribbon round his 
neck.^' Here she gave another little gurgle of 
delight. ** And oh, Felix, my father hath seen 
thine, and 't is all settled! Thou art to be a 
famous carver with the Pere Videau, as thou 
wishest '' (for the Lady Elinor had unbounded 
faith in Felix's powers); ^^ and, Felix,'' she 
added, ^' I trow 't was the little Christ Child 
for thy creche that did it ! " 

Then, with a merry little smile, she darted 
off to her father, the Count Bernard, who was 
waiting for her down the church path. 

For a little while after she had gone Felix 
did not move, but stood as one in a dream. 
Presently a loud bleat close at his side startled 
him, and, looking down, he saw that Ninette, 
decked in her gay garlands, and still dragging 
the be-ribboned Beppo in the little cart, had 
broken away from the Pere Michaud and come 
close up to himself. 

Then, with a sudden movement, he stooped 
over, and, seizing Beppo in both arms, hugged 

230 Christmas in Legend and Story 

and squeezed Mm till poor Beppo squeaked 
with surprise, and opened his red mouth and 
fairly gasped for breath. But Felix only 
hugged him the harder, murmuring under his 
breath, ' ' Bless thy little heart, Beppo ! Bless 
thy little heart ! ' ' For in a vague way he real- 
ized that the truant lamb had somehow brought 
him his heart's desire, and that was quite 
enough Christmas happiness for one year. 

And the little Lady Elinor was right, too. 
Years after, when Felix grew to be a man, he 
did, in very truth, become a ' ' famous carver, ' ' 
as she had declared. 

Far surpassing his first master, the Pere 
Videau, he traveled and worked in many cities ; 
yet never, through all his long life, did he for- 
get that Christmas Eve in the little village of 
Sur Varne. 

Those who knew him best said that among 
his dearest treasures he always kept a beauti- 
fully carved little box, and in it a bit of faded 
crimson ribbon from the looms of Lyons. 
While, as for Beppo — well, if ever some happy 
day you chance to visit the lovely land of Pro- 
vence, perhaps you will see a certain grand old 
cathedral in the ancient city of Aries; and, if 

Felia^ 231 

you do, look sharp at the figure of a lamb 
chiseled in white stone over the great portal. 
Look well, I say, for Felix, when he carved it, 
would have told you that he was thinking all 
the while of his little pet lamb Beppo. 



Once upon a time, — it was so long ago that 
the whole world has forgotten the date, — in a 
city in the north of Europe, whose name is so 
difficult to pronounce that nobody remembers 
it, — once upon a time there was a little boy of 
seven, named Wolff. He was an orphan in * 
charge of an old aunt who was hard and ava- 
ricious, who only kissed him on New Year's 
Day, and who breathed a sigh of regret every 
time that she gave him a porringer of soup. 

But the poor little lad was naturally so good 
that he loved his aunt just the same, although 
she frightened him very much; and he could 
never see her without trembling, for fear she 
would whip him. 

As the aunt of Wolff was known through all 
the village to have a house and an old stocking 
full of gold, she did not dare send her nephew 


The Sabot of Little Wolff 233 

to the school for the poor, but she obtained a 
reduction of the price with the schoolmaster 
whose school little Wolff attended. The 
teacher, vexed at having a scholar so badly 
dressed and who paid so poorly, often punished 
him unjustly, and even set his fellow-pupils 
against him. 

The poor little fellow was therefore as mis- 
erable as the stones in the street, and hid him- 
self in out-of-the-way corners to cry when 
Christmas came. 

The night before Christmas the schoolmaster 
was to take all of his pupils to church, and 
bring them back to their homes. As the winter 
was very severe that year, and as for several 
days a great quantity of snow had fallen, the 
children came to the master ^s house warmly 
wrapped and bundled up, with fur caps pulled 
down over their ears, double and triple jackets, 
knitted gloves and mittens, and good, thick- 
nailed boots wj-th strong soles. Only little 
Wolff came shivering in the clothes that he 
wore week-days and Sundays, and with nothing 
on his feet but coarse Strasbourg socks and 
heavy sabots, or wooden shoes. 

His thoughtless comrades made a thousand 

234 Christmas in Legend and Story 

jests over his forlorn looks and his peasant's 
dress; hut little Wolff was so occupied in 
blowing on his fingers to keep them warm, that 
he took no notice of the boys or what they said. 

The troop of boys, with their master at their 
head, started for the church. As they went 
they talked of the fine suppers that were wait- 
ing them at home. The son of the burgomaster 
had seen, before he went out, a monstrous 
goose that the truffles marked with black spots 
like a leopard. At the house of one of the boys 
chere was a little fir tree in a wooden box, from 
whose branches hung oranges, sweetmeats and 

The children spoke, too, of what the Christ- 
child would bring to them, and what he would 
put in their shoes, which they would, of course, 
be very careful to leave in the chimney before 
going to bed. And the eyes of those little boys, 
lively as a parcel of mice, sparkled in advance 
with the joy of seeing in their imagination pink 
paper bags filled with cakes, lead soldiers 
drawn up in battalions in their boxes, menag- 
eries smelling of varnished wood, and mag- 
nificent jumping-jacks covered with purple and 

The Sabot of Little Wolff 235 

Little Wolff knew very well by experience 
that his old aunt would send him supperless to 
bed ; but, knowing that all the year he had been 
as good and industrious as possible, he hoped 
that the Christ-child would not forget him, and 
he, too, looked eagerly forward to putting his 
wooden shoes in the ashes of the fireplace. 

When the service was ended, every one went 
away, anxious for his supper, and the band of 
children, walking two by two after their 
teacher, left the church. 

In the porch, sitting on a stone seat under a 
Gothic niche, a child was sleeping — a child 
who was clad in a robe of white linen, and 
whose feet were bare, notwithstanding the cold. 
He was not a beggar, for his robe was new and 
fresh, and near him on the ground was seen 
a square, a hatchet, a pair of compasses, and 
the other tools of a carpenter's apprentice. 
Under the light of the stars, his face bore an 
expression of divine sweetness, and his long 
locks of golden hair seemed like an aureole 
about his head. But the child's feet, blue in 
the cold of that December night, were sad to 

The children, so well clothed and shod for the 

236 Christmas in Legend and Story 

winter, passed heedlessly before the unknown 
child. One of them, the son of one of the prin- 
cipal men in the village, looked at the waif with 
an expression in which no pity could be seen. 

But little Wolff, coming the last out of the 
church, stopped, full of compassion, before the 
beautiful sleeping child. ^ ' Alas ! ' ^ said the 
orphan to himself, * ^ it is too bad that this poor 
little one has to go barefoot in such bad 
weather. But what is worse than all, he has 
not even a boot or a wooden shoe to leave be- 
fore him while he sleeps to-night, so that the 
Christ-child could put something there to com- 
fort him in his misery." 

And, carried away by the goodness of his 
heart, little Wolif took off the wooden shoe 
from his right foot, and laid it in front of the 
sleeping child. Then, limping along on his 
poor blistered foot and dragging his sock 
through the snow, he went back to his aunt's 

** Look at that worthless fellow! '' cried his 
aunt, full of anger at his return without one of 
his shoes. *^ What have you done with your 
wooden shoe, little wretch? '' 

Little Wolff did not know how to deceive, 

The Sabot of Little Wolf 237 

and although he was shaking with terror, he 
tried to stammer out some account of his ad- 

The old woman burst into a frightful peal 
of laughter. ^^ Ah, monsieur takes off his 
shoes for beggars! Ah, monsieur gives away 
his wooden shoes to a barefoot ! This is some- 
thing new! Ah, well, since that is so, I am 
going to put the wooden shoe which you have 
left in the chimney, and I promise you the 
Christ-child will leave there to-night something 
to whip you with in the morning. And you 
shall pass the day to-morrow on dry bread and 
water. We will see if next time you give away 
your shoe to the first vagabond that comes.'' 

Then the aunt, after having given the poor 
boy a couple of slaps, made him climb up to his 
bed in the attic. Grieved to the heart, the child 
went to bed in the dark, and soon went to 
sleep, his pillow wet with tears. 

On the morrow morning, when the old 
woman went downstairs — oh, wonderful sight ! 
— she saw the great chimney full of beautiful 
playthings, and sacks of magnificent candies, 
and all sorts of good things; and before all 
these splendid things the right shoe, that her 

238 Christmas in Legend and Story 

nephew had given to the little waif, stood by 
the side of the left shoe, that she herself had 
put there that very night, and where she meant 
to put a birch rod. 

As little Wolff, running down to learn the 
meaning of his aunt's exclamation, stood in 
artless ecstasy before all these splendid gifts, 
suddenly there were loud cries and laughter 
out of doors. The old woman and the little 
boy went out to know what it all meant, and 
saw the neighbors gathered around the public 
fountain. What had happened! Oh, some- 
thing very amusing and extraordinary! The 
children of all the rich people of the village, 
those whose parents had wished to surprise 
them with the most beautiful gifts, had found 
only rods in their shoes. 

Then the orphan and the old woman, think- 
ing of all the beautiful things that were in their 
chimney, were full of amazement. But pres- 
ently they saw the cure coming toward them, 
with wonder in his face. In the church porch, 
where in the evening a child, clad in a white 
robe, and with bare feet, had rested his sleep- 
ing head, the cure had just seen a circle of gold 
incrusted with precious stones. 

The Sabot of Little Wolff 239 

Then the people understood that the beauti- 
ful sleeping child, near whom were the carpen- 
ter's tools, was the Christ-child in person, be- 
come for an hour such as he was when he 
worked in his parents' house, and they bowed 
themselves before that miracle that the good 
God had seen fit to work, to reward the faith 
and charity of a child. 

Abbie Fabwell Brown 

* * Oh ! I am so cold, so cold ! ' ' sobbed little 
Pierre, as be stumbled through the snow which 
was drifting deep upon the mountain side. 
*^ Oh, I am so cold! The snow bites my face 
and blinds me, so that I cannot see the road. 
Where are all the Christmas candle-lights? 
The people of the village must have forgotten. 
The little Jesus will lose His way to-night. I 
never forgot to set our window at home full 
of lights on Christmas Eve. But now it is 
Christmas Eve, and there is no home any more. 
And I am so cold, so cold! '* 

Little Pierre sobbed again and stumbled in 
the snow, which was drifting deeper and deeper 
upon the mountain side. This was the stormi- 
est Christmas Eve which had been seen for 
years, and all the little boys who had good 


Tha Little Friend 241 

homes were hugging themselves close to the 
fire, glad that they were not out in the bleak 
night. Every window was full of flickering 
tapers to light the expected Holy Child upon 
His way through the village to the church. But 
little Pierre had strayed so far from the road 
that he could not see these rows and rows of 
tiny earth-stars, any more than he could see 
through the snow the far-otf sky-stars which 
the angels had lighted along the streets of 

Pierre was on his way to the village from 
the orphan boys^ home at the Abbe's charity 
school. And that was not like a happy real 
home, for the little Brothers were rough and 
rude and far from loving one another. He had 
started at dusk from the school, hoping to be 
at the village church before curfew. For 
Pierre had a sweet little voice, and he was to 
earn a few pennies by singing in the choir on 
Christmas morning. But it was growing late. 
The church would be closed and the Cure gone 
home before Pierre could reach it; and then 
what should he do? 

The snow whirled faster and faster, and 
Pierre's legs found it harder and harder to 

242 Christmas in Legend and Story 

move themselves through the great drifts. 
They seemed heavy and numb, and he was 
growing oh, so tired ! If he could but lie down 
to sleep until Christmas Day! But he knew 
that he must not do that. For those who 
choose this kind of soft and tempting bed turn 
into ice-people, and do not wake up in the 
morning. So he bent his head and tried to 
plough on through the drifts. 

Whish! A soft white thing flapped through 
the snow and struck Pierre in the face, so that 
he staggered and almost lost his balance. The 
next moment he had caught the thing as it fell 
and was holding it tenderly in his numb hands. 
It was a beautiful dove, white as the snow from 
which it seemed to come. It had been whirled 
about by the storm until it had lost strength 
to fly, and it now lay quite still, with closed 
eyes. Pierre stroked the ruffled feathers 
gently and blew upon its cold body, trying to 
bring it back to life. 

* ' Poor bird ! ' ' he said softly. * * You are 
lost in the snow, like me. I will try to keep 
you warm, though I am myself a cold little 
body.'^ He put the bird under his jacket, hold- 
ing it close to his heart. Presently the dove 

The. Little Friend 243 

opened its eyes and stirred feebly, giving a 
faint ^^ Coo! '' 

** I wish I had something for you to eat, 
poor bird, ' ' said Pierre, forgetting his own cold 
and hunger. ^ ^ If I could but take you into my 
own house and feed you as I used to feed the 
birds upon Christmas Eve! But now I have 
no home myself, and I can scarcely keep you 
warm. ' ' 

Pierre shivered and tried to move forward. 
But the storm seemed to grow even fiercer, and 
the wind blew so keenly in his face that he 
could scarcely stand. ^^ I cannot go another 
step,'* he said, and down he sank in the snow, 
which began to cover him with a downy blan- 
ket, pretending to be a careful mother. He 
hugged the bird closer and began to feel afraid. 
He knew that he was in great danger. ' ' Dear 
Dove," he whispered, ^^ I am sorry that I can- 
not save you. We shall turn into ice-images 
together. But I will keep you warm as long 
as I can. ' ' Then he closed his eyes, for he was 
very sleepy. 

In a little while something made Pierre open 
his eyes. At first he could see only the whirling 
snow, which seemed to be everywhere. But 

244 Christmas in Legend and Story 

presently he found that some one was bending 
over him, with face close to his; some one 
chubby and rosy and young, — a child like 
himself, but more beautiful than any child 
whom Pierre had ever seen. He stared hard 
at the face which seemed to smile at him 
through the snow, not minding the cold. 

*^ You have my dove inside your coat,^' said 
the Child, pointing. ** I lost her in the storm. 
Give her to me. ' ' 

Pierre held his coat the closer. *^ She was 
cold,'' he answered. ** She was dying in the 
snow. I am trying to keep her warm. ' ' 

** But she is warm when she is with me, 
though I have no coat to wrap her in, ' ' said the 
Child. And, indeed, he was clad only in a little 
shirt, with his rosy legs quite bare. Yet he 
looked not cold. A brightness glowed about 
him, and his breath seemed to warm the air. 
Pierre saw that, though it was still snowing 
beyond them, there were no whirling flakes 
between him and the Child. 

The little Stranger held out his hand once 
more. ^* Please give me the dove," he begged. 
'* I must hasten on my way to the village 
yonder. The dove strayed from my bosom and 

The. Little Friend 245 

was lost. You found her here, far from the 
road. Thank you, little boy. Are you often 
so kind to poor lost birds? '' 

*^ Why, they are the Lord's own birds!'' 
cried little Pierre. ** How should one not be 
kind and love them dearly I On the Lord's 
birthday eve, too! It is little that I could do 
for this one, — I who have saved and fed so 
many on other Christmas Eves. Alas, I wish 
I was back in those good old days of the wheat- 
sheaf and the full pan of milk and the bright 
warm fire! " Pierre's eyes filled with tears, 

'^ What! Did you set a sheaf of wheat for 
the birds on Christmas Eve? " asked the Child, 
drawing closer and bending kindly eyes upon 

Now the boy saw that where the Stranger 
stood the snow had melted all away, so that 
they were inclosed in a little space like a 
downy nest, which seemed almost warm to his 

'' Yes, I set out a wheat-sheaf," said Pierre 
simply. *^ Why not? I love all the little crea- 
tures whom our Lord Himself so dearly loved, 
and to whom He bade us be kind. On Christ- 
mas Eve especially I always tried to make 

246 Christmas in Legend and Story 

happy those which He sent in my way, — poor 
little wanderers as well as onr own friends at 
home. ' ' 

The Child drew yet closer and sat down in 
the snow beside Pierre. His beautiful eyes 
shone like stars, and his voice was like sweet 
music. '' What,'' he said, '' you are the boy 
who stood in the doorway with a pan of bread 
and milk, — part of your own supper, — and 
called the hungry kitten to feast? You are the 
same who tossed a bone to the limping dog and 
made him a bed in the stable! You stroked 
the noses of the ox and the ass and said gentle 
things to them, because they were the first 
friends of the little Jesus'? You set the sheaf 
of wheat for the snowbirds, and they lighted 
upon your hands and shoulders and kissed your 
lips in gratitude? You are that boy, friend of 
God's friends. No wonder that my white dove 
flew to you out of the storm. She knew, she 
knew! " 

The Child bent near and kissed Pierre on 
the cheeks, so that they grew rosy, and the 
warm blood went tingling through his little 
cold limbs. Sitting up, he said: ^* Yes, I am 
that boy who last year was so happy because 

The^ Little Friend 2A1 

he could do these pleasant things. But how do 
you know, little Stranger! How did you see? '' 

** Oh, I know, I saw! '^ cried the Child, glee- 
fully clapping his hands as a child will. '' I 
was there. I passed through the village last 
Christmas Eve, and I saw it all. But tell me 
now, how do you come here, dear boy! Why 
are you not in that happy home this stormy 
night, once more making the Lord's creatures 
happy! '' 

Pierre told all to the Child: how his dear 
father and mother had died and left him alone 
in the world ; how the home had been sold, and 
now he lived in the charity school kept by the 
good Abbe; how he had learned of the chance 
to earn a few pennies by singing on Christmas 
Day in the neighboring village church, which 
lacked a voice among the choir-boys; how he 
was on his way thither when the storm had 
hidden the road, and he had grown so cold, so 

** Then your dove came to me, little Stran- 
ger,'' Pierre concluded. ^* She came, and I 
folded her in my jacket to keep her warm. 
But, do you know, it must be that she has kept 
me warm. Although I could walk no further, 

248 Christmas in Legend and Story 

I am not cold at all, nor frightened, and no 
longer hungry. Sit close to me, little Stranger. 
Yon shall share my jacket, too, and we will all 
three warm one another.'' 

The Child laughed again, a low, soft, silvery 
laugh, like a happy brook slipping over the peb- 
bles. *^ I am not cold," he said. ** I cannot 
stay with you. I must go yonder." And he 
pointed through the snow. 

** Whither, oh, whither? " cried Pierre ea- 
gerly. ** Let me go with you. I am lost; but 
if you know the way we can go together, hand 
in hand." 

The Child shook his head. ** Not so," he 
said. * * I do not follow the path, and your feet 
would stumble. I shall find a way without sink- 
ing in the snow. I must go alone. But there 
is a better way for you. I leave my dove with 
you : she will keep you warm until help comes. 
Farewell, friend of the Lord's friends." 
Stooping the Child kissed Pierre once more, 
upon the forehead. Then, before the boy saw 
how he went, he had vanished from the little 
nest of snow, without leaving a footprint be- 

Now the dove, clasped close to Pierre 's heart, 

The^ Utile Friend 249 

seemed, to warm him like a little fire within; 
and the Child's kiss on his forehead made him 
so happy, but withal so drowsy, that he smiled 
as he closed his eyes once more repeating, 
* * * Until help comes. ' ' There is a better way ' 
for me/' 


On the side of the mountain, away from the 
village street, perched the little hut of Grand- 
father Viaud. And here, on Christmas Eve, 
sat the old man and his wife, looking very sad 
and lonely. For there was no sound of child- 
ish laughter in the little hut, no patter of small 
feet, no whispering of Christmas secrets. The 
little Viands had long since grown up and flown 
away to build nests of their own in far-off 
countries. Poor Josef Viaud and old Bettine 
were quite alone this Christmas Eve, save for 
the Saint Bernard who was stretched out be- 
fore the fire, covering half the floor with his 
huge bulk, like a furry rug. He was the very 
Prince of dogs, as his name betokened, and he 
was very good to Grandfather and Grand- 
mother, who loved him dearly. But on Christ- 

25D Christmas in Legend and Story 

mas Eve even the littlest cottage, crowded with 
the biggest tenants, seems lonely unless there 
are children in the corners. 

The Viands sat silently gazing into the fire, 
with scarcely a word for each other, scarcely a 
caress for faithful Prince. Indeed, the great 
dog himself seemed to know that something 
was lacking, and every once in a while would 
lift his head and whine wistfully. 

In each of the two small windows burned a 
row of candles, flickering in the draught that 
blew down the great chimney and swept 
through the little chamber. And these, with 
the crackling blaze upon the hearth, sent queer 
shadows quivering up the smoky walls. 

Grandfather Viand looked over his shoulder 
as a great gust blew the ashes into the room. 
** Hey! '' he cried. *^ I almost fancied the 
shadow of one looking in at the window. Ha, 
ha! What foolishness! Eh! but it is a fear- 
some storm. Pray the good Lord that there 
may be no poor creatures wandering on the 
mountain this night." 

*^ The Lord's birthday, too! " said Grand- 
mother Bettine. ^^ The dear little Child has a 
cold way to come. Even He might become con- 

The. Little Friend 251 

fused and be driven to wander by such a whirl 
of snow. I am glad that we set the tapers 
there, Josef, even though we be so far from the 
village street down which they say He passes. 
How pleasant to think that one might give light 
to His blessed feet if they were wandering from 
the way, — the dear little Child ^s feet, so rosy 
and soft and tender! '^ And good Grand- 
mother Viaud dropped a tear upon her knit- 
ting; for she remembered many such little feet 
that had once pattered about the cottage floor. 
Prince lifted his head and seemed to listen, 
then whined as he had done before. 

** You are lonely, old fellow, are you not? '' 
quavered old Josef. '* You are waiting for the 
children to come back and make it merry, as it 
used to be in the old days when you were a pup. 
Heigho! Those were pleasant days, but they 
will never come again. Prince. We are all 
growing old, we three together.'' 

** Ah, peace, Josef, peace! '' cried old Bet- 
tine, wiping her eyes again. ** It is lonely 
enough and sad enough, God knows, without 
speaking of it. What use to sigh for that 
which cannot be? If the good Lord wished us 
to have a comforter in our old age, doubtless 

252 Christmas in Legend and Story 

He would send us one. He knows how we have 
longed and prayed that a child's feet might 
echo through our house once more: how we 
have hoped from year to year that one of the 
grandchildren might return to bless us with 
his little presence. ' ' At this moment Prince 
jumped to his feet with a low bark, and stood 
trembling, with pointed ears. 

** What dost thou hear, old dog? '' asked 
the Grandfather carelessly. ^^ There is naught 
human abroad this night, I warrant you. All 
wise folk are hugging the fire like us. Only 
those bad spirits of Christmas Eve are howling 
about for mischief, they say. Best keep away 
from the door, old Prince, lest they nip your 
toes or bite your nose for spite.'' 

'' Hush! " cried the Grandmother, laying 
her hand upon his arm. ^^ You forget: there 
is the Other One abroad. It may be that 

She was interrupted by Prince, who ran 
eagerly to the door and began snifi&ng at the 
latch in great excitement. Then he gave a 
long, low howl. At the same moment the latch 
rattled, and the Viands distinctly heard a little 
voice cry, ** Open, open, good people! " 

The, Little Friend 253 

The old couple looked at each other; the 
cheeks of one flushed, and the other's paled. 
At the same moment they rose stiffly from 
their chairs by the fire. But Grandmother 
Bettine was first at the door. She lifted the 
latch, the door blew open violently, and with 
a loud bark Prince dashed out into the storm. 

" What is it? Who is there! '' cried Josef 
Viaud, peering over his wife's shoulder. But 
no one answered save the rough storm, which 
fiercely blew into the faces of the old couple, 
whirling and screaming about their heads. 
* * H 'm ! It was only a fancy, ' ' muttered the 
old man. '' Come in, Mother. Come, Prince! " 
and he whistled out into the storm. But the 
wind whistled too, drowning his voice, and 
Prince did not return. * * He is gone ! ' ' cried 
Josef impatiently. *^ It is some evil spirit's 
work. ' ' 

* * Nay, Father ! ' ' and, as she spoke, the door 
banged violently in Josef's face, as if to em- 
phasize the good wife's rebuke. ** It was a 
little child; I heard it," insisted Bettine, as 
they staggered back to the fire and sank 
weakly into their chairs. *' Perhaps it was the 
Holy Child Himself, who knows? But why 

254 Christmas in Legend and Story 

would He not enter? Why, Josef? Oh, I 
fear we were not good enough! " 

** I only know that we have perhaps lost our 
good dog. Why did you open the door, Bet- 
tine? " grumbled Josef sleepily. 

a Prince is not lost. For what was he bred 
a snow-dog upon the mountains if a storm like 
this be danger to him? He is of the race that 
rescues, that finds and is never lost. Mayhap 
the Holy Child had work for him this night. 
Ah, the Little One! If I could but have seen 
Him for one moment! " And good Bettine's 
head nodded drowsily on her chair-back. 
Presently the old couple were fast asleep. 

Now when they had been dreaming strange 
things for some time, there came a scratching 
at the door, and a loud bark which woke them 

'* What was that? '' exclaimed Grandfather, 
starting nervously. * ^ Ho, Prince ! Are you 
without there? '' and he ran to the door, while 
Grandmother was still rubbing from her eyes 
the happy dream which had made them moist, 
— the dream of a rosy, radiant Child who was 
to be the care and comfort of a lonely cottage. 
And then, before she had fairly wakened from 

The Little Friend 255 

the dream, Prince bounded into the room and 
laid before the fire at her feet a soft, snow- 
wrapped bundle, from which hung a pale little 
face with golden hair. 

^^ It is the Child of my dream! '' cried 
Bettine. '^ The Holy One has come back to 

** Nay, this is no dream-child, mother. This 
is a little human fellow, nearly frozen to 
death,'' exclaimed Josef Viaud, pulling the 
bundle toward the fire. '' Come, Bettine, let 
us take off his snow-stiff clothes and get some 
little garments from the chests yonder. I will 
give him a draught of something warm, and 
rub the life into his poor little hands and feet. 
We have both been dreaming, it seems. But 
certainly this is no dream! " 

** Look! The dove! " cried Grandmother, 
taking the bird from the child's bosom, where 
it still nestled, warm and warming. ^ * Josef ! 
I believe it is indeed the Holy Child Himself," 
she whispered. ** He bears a dove in his 
bosom, like the image in the Church." But 
even as she spoke the dove fluttered in her fin- 
gers, then, with a gentle '' Coo-roo! " whirled 
once about the little chamber and darted out 

256 Christmas in Legend and Story 

at the door, which they had forgotten quite to 
close. With that the child opened his eyes. 

* * The dove is gone ! ' ' he cried. * ^ Yet I am 
warm. Why — has the little Stranger come 
once more? ^' Then he saw the kind old faces 
bent over him, and felt Prince's warm kisses 
on his hands and cheeks, with the fire flicker- 
ing pleasantly beyond. 

* * It is like coming home again ! " he mur- 
mured, and with his head on Bettine's shoul- 
der dropped comfortably to sleep. 

On the morrow all the village went to see 
the image of the Christ Child lying in a man- 
ger near the high altar of the church. It was 
a sweet little Child in a white shirt, clasping 
in his hands a dove. They believed him to 
have come in the stormy night down the village 
street. And they were glad that their pious 
candles in the windows had guided Him safely 
on the road. But little Pierre, while he sang 
in the choir, and his adopted parents, the 
Viands, kneeling happily below, had sweet 
thoughts of a dream which had brought them 
all together. 

Who knows but that Prince at home happily 

The Holy Night. 
From Painting by Feuerstein- 

The. Utile Friend 257 

guarding Pierre ^s snow-wet old shoes — who 
knows but that Prince was dreaming the hap- 
piest dream of all? For only Prince knew how 
and where and under what guidance he had 
found the little friend of the Lord's friends 
sleeping in the snow, with but a white dove in 
his bosoni to keep him from becoming a boy 
of ice. 


Count Lyof N. Tolsto'i* 

In a certain city dwelt Martin Avdyeeich, 
the cobbler. He lived in a cellar, a wretched 
little hole with a single window. The window 
looked up towards the street, and through it 
Martin could just see the passers-by. It is 
true that he could see little more than their 
boots, but Martin Avdyeeich could read a 
man's character by his boots, so he needed no 
more. Martin Avdyeeich had lived long in 
that one place, and had many acquaintances. 
Few indeed were the boots in that neighbor- 
hood which had not passed through his hands 
at some time or other. On some he would 
fasten new soles, to others he would give side- 
pieces, others again he would stitch all round, 
and even give them new uppers if need be. 
And often he saw his own handiwork through 
the window. There was always lots of work 
for him, for Avdyeeich 's hand was cunning 


Where Love Is, There God Is Also 259 

and his leather good; nor did he overcharge, 
and he always kept his word. He always en- 
gaged to do a job by a fixed time if he could; 
but if he could not, he said so at once, and 
deceived no man. So every one knew Avdye- 
eich, and he had no lack of work. Avdyeeich 
had always been a pretty good man, but as he 
grew old he began to think more about his soul, 
and draw nearer to his God. While Martin 
was still a journeyman his wife had died; but 
his wife had left him a little boy — three years 
old. Their other children had not lived. All 
the eldest had died early. Martin wished at 
first to send his little child into the country to 
his sister, but afterwards he thought better of 
it. ** My Kapitoshka,'' thought he, *^ will feel 
miserable in a strange household. He shall 
stay here with me. ' ^ And so Avdyeeich left his 
master, and took to living in lodgings alone 
with his little son. But God did not give 
Avdyeeich happiness in his children. No 
sooner had the little one begun to grow up and 
be a help and a joy to his father's heart, than 
a sickness fell upon Kapitoshka, the little one 
took to his bed, lay there in a raging fever for 
a week, and then died. Martin buried his son 

260 Christmas in Legend and Story 

in despair — so desperate was he that he be- 
gan to murmur against God. Such disgust of 
life overcame him that he more than once 
begged God that he might die; and he re- 
proached God for taking not him, an old man, 
but his darling, his only son, instead. And 
after that Avdyeeich left off going to church. 

And lo! one day, there came to Avdyeeich 
from the Troitsa Monastery, an aged peasant- 
pilgrim — it was already the eighth year of his 
pilgrimage. Avdyeeich fell a-talking with him 
and began to complain of his great sorrow. 
** As for living any longer, thou man of God,'* 
said he, ** I desire it not. Would only that I 
might die! That is my sole prayer to God. 
I am now a man who has no hope.'' 

And the old man said to him : * * Thy speech, 
Martin, is not good. How shall we judge the 
doings of God? God's judgments are not our 
thoughts. God willed that thy son shouldst die, 
but that thou shouldst live. Therefore 'twas 
the best thing both for him and for thee. It is 
because thou wouldst fain have lived for thy 
own delight that thou dost now despair." 

^' But what then is a man to live for? " 
asked Avdyeeich. 

Where Love Is, There God Is Also 261 

And the old man answered : * ^ For God, 
Martin! He gave thee life, and for Him 
therefore must thou live. When thou dost 
begin to live for Him, thou wilt grieve about 
nothing more, and all things will come easy to 

Martin was silent for a moment, and then he 
said: ^' And how must one live for God! '' 

*^ Christ hath shown us the way. Thou 
knowest thy letters. Buy the Gospels and 
read; there thou wilt find out how to live for 
God. There everything is explained." 

These words made the heart of Avdyeeich 
burn within him, and he went the same day 
and bought for himself a New Testament 
printed in very large type, and began to read, 

Avdyeeich set out with the determination to 
read it only on holidays; but as he read, it 
did his heart so much good that he took to 
reading it every day. And the second time he 
read until all the kerosene in the lamp had 
burnt itself out, and for all that he could not 
tear himself away from the book. And so it 
was every evening. And the more he read, the 
more clearly he understood what God wanted 
of him, and how it behooved him to live for 

262 Christmas in Legend and Story 

God; and his heart grew lighter and lighter 
continually. Formerly, whenever he lay down 
to sleep he would only sigh and groan, and 
think of nothing but Kapitoshka, but now he 
would only say to himself: '' Glory to Thee! 
Glory to Thee, Lord ! Thy will be done ! ' ' 

Henceforth the whole life of Avdyeeich was 
changed. Formerly, whenever he had a holi- 
day, he would go to the tavern to drink tea, 
nor would he say no to a drop of brandy now 
and again. He would tipple with his comrades, 
and though not actually drunk, would, for all 
that, leave the inn a bit merry, babbling non- 
sense and talking loudly and censoriously. He 
had done with all that now. His life became 
quiet and joyful. With the morning light he 
sat down to his work, worked out his time, then 
took down his lamp from the hook, placed it 
on the table, took down his book from the 
shelf, bent over it, and sat him down to read. 
And the more he read the more he understood, 
and his heart grew brighter and happier. 

It happened once that Martin was up read- 
ing till very late. He was reading St. Luke's 
Gospel. He was reading the sixth chapter, 
and as he read he came to the words : ' * And 

Where Love Is, There God Is Also 263 

to him that smiteth thee on the one cheek, 
offer also the other/' This passage he read 
several times, and presently he came to that 
place where the Lord says : * ^ And why call ye 
me Lord, Lord, and do not the things which 
I say? Whosoever cometh to Me, and heareth 
My sayings, and doeth them, I will show you 
to whom he is like. He is like a man which 
built an house, and dug deep, and laid the 
foundations on a rock. And when the flood 
arose, the storm beat vehemently upon that 
house, and could not shake it, for it was 
founded upon a rock. But he that heareth, 
and doeth not, is like a man that without a 
foundation built an house upon the earth, 
against which the stream did beat vehemently, 
and immediately it fell, and the ruin of that 
house was great." 

Avdyeeich read these words through and 
through, and his heart was glad. He took off 
his glasses, laid them on the book, rested his 
elbow on the table, and fell a-thinking. And 
he began to measure his own life by these 
words. And he thought to himself, *' Is my 
house built on the rock or on the sand? How 
<?ood to be as on a rock ! How easy it all seems 

264 Christmas in Legend and Story 

to thee sitting alone here. It seems as if thou 
wert doing God's will to the full, and so thou 
takest no heed and fallest away again. And 
yet thou wouldst go on striving, for so it is 
good for thee. Lord, help me! *' Thus 
thought he, and would have laid him down, but 
it was a grief to tear himself away from the 
book. And so he began reading the seventh 
chapter. He read all about the Centurion, he 
read all about the Widow's Son, he read all 
about the answer to the disciples of St. John; 
and so he came to that place where the rich 
Pharisee invites our Lord to be his guest. 
And he read all about how the woman who 
was a sinner anointed His feet and washed 
them with her tears, and how He justified her. 
And so he came at last to the forty-fourth 
verse, and there he read these words, ^* And 
He turned to the woman and said to Simon, 
Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine 
house, thou gavest Me no water for My feet; 
but she has washed My feet with tears and 
wiped them with the hairs of her head. Thou 
gavest Me no kiss, but this woman, since the 
time I came in, hath not ceased to kiss My feet. 
Mine head with oil thou didst not anoint.'' 

Where Love Is, There God Is Also 265 

And again Avdyeeich took off his glasses, and 
laid them on the book, and fell a-thinking. 

*^ So it is quite plain that I too have some- 
thing of the Pharisee about me. Am I not 
always thinking of myself? Am I not always 
thinking of drinking tea, and keeping myself 
as warm and cozy as possible, without thinking 
at all about the guest? Simon thought about 
himself, but did not give the slightest thought 
to his guest. But who was the guest? The 
Lord Himself. And suppose He were to come 
to me, should I treat Him as the Pharisee 
did? '' 

And Avdyeeich leaned both his elbows on the 
table and, without perceiving it, fell a-dozing. 

* * Martin ! ' ' — it was as though the voice of 
some one close to his ear. 

Martin started up from his nap. ^* Who's 
there? " 

He turned round, he gazed at the door, but 
there Was no one. Again he dozed off. Sud- 
denly he heard quite plainly, '* Martin, Mar- 
tin, I say! Look to-morrow into the street. I 
am coming." 

Martin awoke, rose from his chair, and be- 
gan to rub his eyes. And he did not know him- 

266 Christmas in Legend and Story 

self whether he had heard these words asleep 
or awake. He turned down the lamp and laid 
him down to rest. 

At dawn next day, Avdyeeich arose, prayed 
to God, lit his stove, got ready his gruel and 
cabbage soup, filled his samovar, put on his 
apron, and sat him down by his window to 
work. There Avdyeeich sits and works, and 
thinks of nothing but the things of yesternight. 
His thoughts were divided. He thought at one 
time that he must have gone off dozing, and 
then again he thought he really must have 
heard that voice. It might have been so, 
thought he. 

Martin sits at the window and looks as much 
at his window as at his work, and whenever 
a strange pair of boots passes by he bends 
forward and looks out of the window, so as 
to see the face as well as the feet of the 
passers-by. The house porter passed by in 
new felt boots, the water-carrier passed by, 
and after that there passed close to the win- 
dow an old soldier, one of Nicholas's veterans, 
in tattered old boots, with a shovel in his 
hands. Avdyeeich knew him by his boots. 
The old fellow was called Stepanuich, and 

Where Love Is, There God Is Also 267 

lived with the neighboring shopkeeper, who 
harbored him of his charity. His duty was to 
help the porter. Stepanuich stopped before 
Avdyeeich's window to sweep away the snow. 
Avdyeeich cast a glance at him, and then went 
on working as before. 

'^ I'm not growing sager as I grow older," 
thought Avdyeeich, with some self-contempt. 
*^ I make up my mind that Christ is coming to 
me, and lo ! 'tis only Stepanuich clearing away 
the snow. Thou simpleton, thou! thou art 
wool-gathering! '' Then Avdyeeich made ten 
more stitches, and then he stretched his head 
once more towards the window. He looked 
through the window again, and there he saw 
that Stepanuich had placed the shovel against 
the wall, and was warming himself and taking 
breath a bit. 

^^ The old man is very much broken," 
thought Avdyeeich to himself. ** It is quite 
plain that he has scarcely strength enough to 
scrape away the snow. Suppose I make him 
drink a little tea ! the samovar, too, is just on 
the boil." Avdyeeich put down his awl, got 
up, placed the samovar on the table, put some 
tea in it, and tapped on the window with his 

268 Christmas in Legend and Story 

fingers. Stepanuich turned round and came to 
the window. Avdyeeich beckoned to Mm, and 
then went and opened the door. 

** Come in and warm yourself a bit," cried 
he. '' You're a bit chilled, eh? " 

^* Christ requite you! Yes, and all my bones 
ache too," said Stepanuich. Stepanuich came 
in, shook off the snow, and began to wipe his 
feet so as not to soil the floor, but he tottered 

** Don't trouble about wiping your feet. I'll 
rub it off myself. It's all in the day's work. 
Come in and sit down," said Avdyeeich. 
^' Here, take a cup of tea." 

And Avdyeeich filled two cups, and gave one 
to his guest, and he poured his own tea out into 
the saucer and began to blow it. 

Stepanuich drank his cup, turned it upside 
down, put a gnawed crust on the top of it, and 
said, ^^ Thank you." But it was quite plain 
that he wanted to be asked to have some more. 

** Have a drop more. Do! " said Avdyeeich, 
and poured out fresh cups for his guest and 
himself, and as Avdyeeich drank his cup, he 
could not help glancing at the window from 
time to time. 

Where Love Is, There God Is Also 269 

*^ Dost thou expect any one? '^ asked his 

** Do I expect any one? Well, honestly, I 
hardly know. I am expecting and I am not 
expecting, and there's a word which has burnt 
itself right into my heart. Whether it was a 
vision or no, I know not. Look now, my 
brother! I was reading yesterday about our 
little Father Christ, how He suffered, how He 
came on earth. Hast thou heard of Him, eh? '* 

** I have heard, I have heard,'' replied 
Stepanuich, ^* but we poor ignorant ones know 
not our letters." 

** Anyhow, I was reading about this very 
thing — how He came down upon earth. I was 
reading how He went to the Pharisee, and how 
the Pharisee did not meet Him half-way. That 
was what I was reading about yesternight, 
little brother mine. I read that very thing, 
and bethought me how the Honorable did not 
receive our little Father Christ honorably. 
But suppose, I thought, if He came to one like 
me — would I receive Him? Simon at any 
rate did not receive Him at all. Thus I 
thought, and so thinking, fell asleep. I fell 
asleep, I say, little brother mine, and I heard 

270 Christmas in Legend and Story 

my name called. I started up. A voice was 
whispering at my very ear. * Look out to- 
morrow! ' it said, * I am coming.' And so it 
befell twice. Now look! wouldst thou believe 
it? the idea stuck to me — I scold myself for 
my folly, and yet I look for Him, our little 
Father Christ! " 

Stepanuich shook his head and said nothing, 
but he drank his cup dry and put it aside. 
Then Avdyeeich took up the cup and filled it 

*^ Drink Some more. 'Twill do thee good. 
Now it seems to me that when our little Father 
went about on earth. He despised no one, but 
sought unto the simple folk most of all. He 
was always among the simple folk. Those dis- 
ciples of His too, He chose most of them from 
amongst our brother-laborers, sinners like unto 
us. He that exalteth himself. He says, shall 
be abased, and he that abaseth himself shall 
be exalted. Ye, says He, call me Lord, and I, 
says He, wash your feet. He who would be the 
first among you, He says, let him become the 
servant of all. And therefore it is that He 
says. Blessed are the lowly, the peacemakers, 
the humble, and the long-suffering.'' 

Where Love Is, There God Is Also 271 

Stepanuicli forgot his tea. He was an old 
man, soft-hearted, and tearful. He sat and 
listened, and the tears rolled down his cheeks. 

*^ Come, drink a little more,** said Avdye- 
eich. But Stepanuich crossed himself, ex- 
pressed his thanks, pushed away his cup, and 
got up. 

^* I thank thee, Martin Avdyeeich. I have 
fared well at thy hands, and thou hast re- 
freshed me both in body and soul. * * 

** Thou wilt show me a kindness by coming 
again. I am so glad to have a guest,*' said 
Avdyeeich. Stepanuich departed, and Martin 
poured out the last drop of tea, drank it, 
washed up, and again sat down by the window 
to work — he had some back-stitching to do. 
He stitched and stitched, and now and then cast 
glances at the window — he was looking for 
Christ, and could think of nothing but Him 
and His works. And the divers sayings of 
Christ were in his head all the time. 

Two soldiers passed by, one in regimental 
boots, the other in boots of his own making; 
after that, the owner of the next house passed 
by in nicely brushed goloshes. A baker with 
a basket also passed by. All these passed by 

272 Christmas in Legend and Story 

in turn, and then there came alongside the win- 
dow a woman in worsted stockings and rustic 
shoes, and as she was passing by she stopped 
short in front of the partition wall. Avdyeeich 
looked up at her from his window, and he saw 
that the woman was a stranger and poorly clad, 
and that she had a little child with her. She 
was leaning up against the wall with her back 
to the wind, and tried to wrap the child up, but 
she had nothing to wrap it up with. The 
woman wore summer clothes, and thin enough 
they were. And from out of his corner Avdye- 
eich heard the child crying and the woman try- 
ing to comfort it, but she could not. Then 
Avdyeeich got up, went out of the door and on 
to the steps, and cried, ^ ' My good woman ! My 
good woman! '* 

The woman heard him and turned round. 

<< Why dost thou stand out in the cold there 
with the child? Come inside! In the warm 
room thou wilt be better able to tend him. This 
way! " 

The woman was amazed. What she saw was 
an old fellow in an apron and with glasses on 
his nose calling to her. She came towards him. 

They went down the steps together — they 

Where Love Is, There God Is Also 273 

went into the room. The old man led the 
woman to the bed. '' There,'' said he, '' sit 
down, gossip, nearer to the stove, and warm 
and feed thy little one. . . .'' 

He went to the table, got some bread and a 
dish, opened the oven door, put some cabbage 
soup into the dish, took out a pot of gruel, but 
it was not quite ready, so he put some cab- 
bage soup only into the dish, and placed it 
on the table. Then he fetched bread, took 
down the cloth from the hook, and spread it 
on the table. 

^' Sit down and have something to eat, gos- 
sip,'' said he, '' and I will sit down a little 
with the youngster. I have had children of my 
own, and know how to manage them." 

The woman crossed herself, sat down at the 
table, and began to eat, and Avdyeeich sat 
down on the bed with the child. Avdyeeich 
smacked his lips at him again and again, but 
his lack of teeth made it a clumsy joke at best. 
And all the time the child never left off shriek- 
ing. Then Avdyeeich hit upon the idea of 
shaking his finger at him, so he snapped his 
fingers up and down, backwards and forwards, 
right in front of the child's mouth. He did not 

274 Christmas in Legend and Story 

put his finger into its mouth, because his finger 
was black and sticky with cobbler's wax. And 
the child stared at the finger and was silent, 
and presently it began to laugh. And Avdye- 
eich was delighted. But the woman went on 
eating, and told him who she was and whence 
she came. 

^ * I am a soldier 's wife, ' ' she said : * * my 
eight months' husband they drove right away 
from me, and nothing has been heard of him 
since. I took a cook's place till I became a 
mother. They could not keep me and the child. 
It is now three months since I have been drift- 
ing about without any fixed resting-place. I 
have eaten away my all. I wanted to be a wet- 
nurse, but people wouldn't have me: * Thou 
art too thin,' they said. I have just been to 
the merchant's wife where our grandmother 
lives, and there they promised to take me in. 
I thought it was all right, but she told me to 
come again in a week. But she lives a long 
way off. I am chilled to death, and he is quite 
tired out. But God be praised! our landlady 
has compassion on us, and gives us shelter for 
Christ's sake. But for that I don't know how 
we could live through it all." 

Where Love Is, There God Is Also 275 

Avdyeeich sighed, and said, '' And have 
you no warm clothes? *' 

*' Ah, kind friend! this is indeed warm- 
clothes time, but yesterday I pawned away my 
last shawl for two grivenki/^ 

The woman went to the bed and took up the 
child, but Avdyeeich stood up, went to the wall 
cupboard, rummaged about a bit, and then 
brought back with him an old jacket. 

** Look! ^' said he, ** 'tis a shabby thing, 
'tis true, but it will do to wrap up in." 

The woman looked at the old jacket, then 
she gazed at the old man, and, taking the 
jacket, fell a-weeping. Avdyeeich also turned 
away, crept under the bed, drew out a 
trunk and seemed to be very busy about it, 
whereupon he again sat down opposite the 

Then the woman said : * * Christ requite thee, 
dear little father! It is plain that it was He 
who sent me by thy window. When I first came 
out it was warm, and now it has turned very 
cold. And He it was, little father, who made 
thee look out of the window and have compas- 
sion on wretched me." 

Avdyeeich smiled slightly, and said: ** Yes, 

276 Christmas in Legend and Story 

He must have done it, for I looked not out of 
the window in vain, dear gossip! " 

And Avdyeeich told his dream to the sol- 
dier 's wife also, and how he had heard a voice 
promising that the Lord should come to him 
that day. 

" All things are possible,'' said the woman. 
Then she rose up, put on the jacket, wrapped 
it round her little one, and then began to curt- 
sey and thank Avdyeeich once more. 

^' Take this for Christ's sake," said Avdye- 
eich, giving her a two-grivenka piece, " and 
redeem your shawl. ' ' The woman crossed her- 
self, Avdyeeich crossed himself, and then he 
led the woman to the door. 

The woman went away. Avdyeeich ate up 
the remainder of the cabbage soup, washed up, 
and again sat down to work. He worked on 
and on, but he did not forget the window, and 
whenever the window was darkened he imme- 
diately looked up to see who was passing. 
Acquaintances passed, strangers passed, but 
there was no one in particular. 

But now Avdyeeich sees how, right in front 
of his window, an old woman, a huckster, has 
taken her stand. She carries a basket of 

Where Love Is, There God Is Also 277 

apples. Not many now remained ; she had evi- 
dently sold them nearly all. Across her 
shoulder she carried a sack full of shavings. 
She must have picked them up near some new 
building, and was taking them home with her. 
It was plain that the sack was straining her 
shoulder. She wanted to shift it on to the 
other shoulder, so she rested the sack on the 
pavement, placed the apple-basket on a small 
post, and set about shaking down the shavings 
in the sack. Now while she was shaking down 
the sack, an urchin in a ragged cap suddenly 
turned up, goodness knows from whence, 
grabbed at one of the apples in the basket, and 
would have made off with it, but the wary old 
woman turned quickly round and gripped the 
youth by the sleeve. The lad fought and tried 
to tear himself loose, but the old woman seized 
him with both hands, knocked his hat off, and 
tugged hard at his hair. The lad howled, and 
the old woman reviled him. Avdyeeich did not 
stop to put away his awl, but pitched it on the 
floor, rushed into the courtyard, and in his 
haste stumbled on the steps and dropped his 
glasses. Avdyeeich ran out into the street. 
The old woman was tugging at the lad's hair 

278 Christmas in Legend and Story 

and wanted to drag him off to the police, while 
the boy fought and kicked. 

** I didn't take it," said he. ** What are you 
whacking me for 1 Let me go ! ' ' 

Avdyeeich came up and tried to part them. 
He seized the lad by the arm and said: ** Let 
him go, little mother! Forgive him for 
Christ's sake! " 

*' I'll forgive him so that he shan't forget 
the taste of fresh birch-rods. I mean to take 
the rascal to the police station." 

Avdyeeich began to entreat with the old 

** Let him go, little mother; he will not do 
so any more. Let him go for Christ's sake." 

The old woman let him go. The lad would 
have bolted, but Avdyeeich held him fast. 

'* Beg the little mother's pardon," said he, 
'* and don't do such things any more. I saw 
thee take them." 

Then the lad began to cry and beg pardon. 

** "Well, that's all right! And now, there's 
an apple for thee." And Avdyeeich took one 
out of the basket and gave it to the boy. ** I'll 
pay thee for it, little mother," he said to the 
old woman. 

Where Love Is, There God Is Also 279 

*' Thou wilt ruin them that way, the black- 
guards,'' said the old woman. '^ If I had the 
rewarding of him, he should not be able to sit 
down for a week.'' 

'^ Oh, little mother, little mother! " cried 
'Avdyeeich, '' that is our way of looking at 
things, but it is not God's way. If we ought to 
be whipped so for the sake of one apple, what 
do we deserve for our sins? " 

The old woman was silent. 

And Avdyeeich told the old woman about the 
parable of the master who forgave his servant 
a very great debt, and how that servant imme- 
diately went out and caught his fellow-servant 
by the throat because he was his debtor. The 
old woman listened to the end, and the lad 
listened too. 

** God bade us forgive," said Avdyeeich, 
^^ otherwise He will not forgive us. We must 
forgive every one, especially the thoughtless." 

The old woman shook her head and sighed. 

** That's all very well," she said, ** but they 
are spoiled enough already." 

'* Then it is for us old people to teach them 
better," said Avdyeeich. 

*' So say I," replied the old woman. ** I 

280 Christmas in Legend and Story 

had seven of tliem at one time, and now I have 
but a single daughter left." And the old 
woman began telling him where and how she 
lived with her daughter, and how many grand- 
children she had. ** I'm not what I was," she 
said, ^ ^ but I work all I can. I am sorry for my 
grandchildren, and good children they are, too. 
No one is so glad to see me as they are. Little 
Aksyutka will go to none but me. ^ Grandma 
dear! darling grandma! ' " and the old 
woman was melted to tears. '^ As for him," 
she added, pointing to the lad, ** boys will be 
boys, I suppose. Well, God be with him! " 

Now just as the old woman was about to 
hoist the sack on to her shoulder, the lad 
rushed forward and said: 

** Give it here, and I'll carry it for thee, 
granny! It is all in my way." 

The old woman shook her head, but she did 
put the sack on the lad's shoulder. 

And so they trudged down the street to- 
gether side by side. And the old woman for- 
got to ask Avdyeeich for the money for the 
apple. Avdyeeich kept standing and looking 
after them, and heard how they talked to each 
other, as they went, about all sorts of things. 

Where Love Is, There God Is Also 281 

Avdyeeich followed them with his eyes till 
they were out of sight, then he turned home- 
wards and found his glasses on the steps (they 
were not broken), picked up his awl, and sat 
down to work again. He worked away for a 
little while, but soon he was scarcely able to 
distinguish the stitches, and he saw the lamp*^ 
lighter going round to light the lamps. ** I 
see it is time to light up,'' thought he, so he 
trimmed his little lamp, lighted it, and again 
sat down to work. He finished one boot com- 
pletely, turned it round and inspected it. 
*^ Good! " he cried. He put away his tools, 
swept up the cuttings, removed the brushes 
and tips, put away the awl, took down the lamp, 
placed it on the table, and took down the Gos- 
pels from the shelf. He wanted to find the 
passage where he had last evening placed a 
strip of morocco leather by way of a marker, 
but he lit upon another place. And just as 
Avdyeeich opened the Gospel, he recollected 
his dream of yesterday evening. And no 
sooner did he call it to mind than it seemed to 
him as if some persons were moving about and 
shuffling with their feet behind him. Avdye- 
eich glanced round and saw that somebody 

282 Christmas in Legend and Story 

was indeed standing in the dark corner — yes, 
some one was really there, but who, he could not 
exactly make out. Then a voice whispered in 
his ear: 

'' Martin! Martin! dost thou not know 
me? " 

" Who art thou! *' cried Avdyeeich, 

'' 'Tis I,'' cried the voice, '^ lo, 'tis I!" 
And forth from the dark corner stepped Ste- 
panuich. He smiled, and it was as though a 
little cloud were breaking, and he was gone. 

** It is I! '^ cried the voice, and forth from 
the corner stepped a woman with a little child ; 
and the woman smiled and the child laughed, 
and they also disappeared. 

*^ And it is I! '* cried the voice, and the old 
woman and the lad with the apple stepped 
forth, and both of them smiled, and they also 

And the heart of Avdyeeich was glad. He 
crossed himself, put on his glasses, and began 
to read the Gospels at the place where he had 
opened them. And at the top of the page he 
read these words: '^ And I was an hungered 
and thirsty, and ye gave Me to drink. I was 
a stranger and ye took Me in.*' 

Where Love Is, There God Is Also 283 

And at the bottom of the page he read this: 
^* Inasmuch as ye have done it to the least of 
these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me.'* 

And Avdyeeich understood that his dream 
had not deceived him, and that the Saviour had 
really come to him that day, and he had really 
received Him.